via Sugar plantations to be seized: Chikovo | The Zimbabwean by Regerai Tukutuku 25.09.13
Zanu (PF) plans to invade sugar plantations in the Lowveld and parcel them out to new players as part of its election promises, according to a senior government official.
“We have summoned Hippo Valley to explain to us why it under-declared its land,” said Felix Chikovo, the Masvingo provincial administrator. The company, together with Triangle Limited, is owned by Tongaat Hullet, an international sugar production player.
Already, a large swathe of farmland has been earmarked for seizure after the Masvingo provincial land allocation committee accused Hippo Valley Estates of dishonesty. The government accuses the company of clinging onto huge pieces of land at the expense of ordinary farmers keen to try their luck in the sugar industry.
Management at Hippo Valley Estates denied the allegation. In fact, said chief executive officer Sydney Mutsambiwa, his company has always played a pivotal role in helping new sugar farmers to learn the ropes.
But Chikovo remains adamant. “Although the company has denied these allegations, investigations are still continuing and once we find them to be true we are going to take appropriate action,” he said.
Dzikamayi Mavhaire, the Minister of Energy and Power Development, gave clear indication of the government’s plan while addressing hundreds of people in Mwenezi last week.
“We should not allow a few individuals to grab land and dish it among themselves and their relatives,” he said.
“There should be openness and transparency in the allocation of the new plots to ensure that we all share the same cake with others.”
Mavhaire said the programme must lead to an orderly redistribution of sugar cane plots to help ordinary people in Masvingo.
Meanwhile, some MDC-T officials say Zanu (PF) tried to entice town councillors to vote for their mayoral candidate in exchange for plots in the Lowveld.
“We were approached after the elections and advised that if we voted for a Zanu (PF) mayor we would be rewarded with sugar cane plots,” said one councillor. “We declined the offer.”