RIGHT OF REPLY – Barquest Farm: My hands are clean

via RIGHT OF REPLY – Barquest Farm: My hands are clean | The Herald April 9, 2015

ON April 1 The Herald ran a story under the title “Mahofa blocks Mzembi farm bid”. The story, which had a banner headline on the paper’s front page, exposed our media’s unethical and unprofessional conduct, as well as Provincial Minister Shuvai Mahofa’s vindictive attitude towards me.

Ordinarily she passes for my mother, notwithstanding her Government deployment, both of which I hold in high esteem. That being so I have been greatly bothered by her failure to engage me directly on this matter.

The facts are that the responsible Lands Minister has given me an offer letter to take over 367 hectares of Barquest Farm Extension, which offer I have since accepted. It is also a fact that Barquest Farm was gazetted and subdivided several years ago. So the Mitchells actually owned two farms at the time the Minister of Lands and Resettlement decided to offer me one of the two.

In addition, and as per Minister Mahofa’s own submission, “. . . a letter recommending the withdrawal of his (my) offer letter for the land in question is being prepared and will be sent to Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement Dr D Mombeshora”.

While it may be the prerogative of the Provincial Lands Committee to recommend to the Lands Minister that an offer letter be withdrawn, they need to convince the Minister to act as they recommend. However, theirs remains a recommendation until the Minister decides to act on it.

Indeed,  should the Lands Minister be so convinced, and withdraws the offer letter, I will not have reason to contest the matter further, unless my own conscience strongly urges me to do so. But until the Lands Minister adopts their recommendation and withdraws the offer letter, the offer still stands.

So, if The Herald was as professional and as ethical as is expected of a public-owned newspaper, the story title should have read, “Mahofa in bid to have Mzembi farm offer withdrawn”.

I never bade for that particular farm, I applied for land, which is my right to do, as a citizen,  was subsequently offered the gazetted part of Barquest Farm.

However, what also boggles the mind regarding this matter is the reporter’s, or his handlers’, eagerness to avoid standard journalistic ethics of seeking to hear both sides of a story, or to at least include key aspects of my side of the story, which side is already fully accessible to him in the public domain.

The writer does not bother to seek the position of the Lands Minister on this matter, because it is the responsible Minister who made the offer to me as per the applicable Government Act. It is therefore the Lands Minister who should defend his decision to offer me that particular piece of land, and not for me to defend my decision to accept the offer.

Instead, the reporter goes on to load his article with falsehoods, like, “Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Eng Walter Mzembi has lost the battle to take over part of Barquest Farm . . .”, but then goes on to self-contradict by adding that this was . . . “after the Provincial Lands Committee recommended the withdrawal of his offer letter”. So it is The Herald that has decided, on the basis of the committee’s recommendation, that I have lost the battle, and not the relevant authority in the person of the Minister of Lands.

In fact, it becomes clear later in the story that this is not just a mere recommendation, it’s a planned mere recommendation” not yet made, let alone responded to by the responsible Minister.

Minister Mahofa’s efforts to clutch at anything that can besmirch my standing are very obvious and include lying and deliberately misleading the public.

Minister Mahofa said “investigations were underway to establish how many farms Eng Mzembi owned in Masvingo”.  That matter does not need investigation, it is a matter of public record in her very own office. That is in addition to the clarification I have made on that issue in the public domain, which clarification the reporter and his handlers chose to ignore for their own reasons.

Minister Mahofa says she wants to know what happened to my Standard A1 farm, and the reporter goes on to state that I “claimed” to have bought that piece of land before the land redistribution exercise.

The facts are that I was never allocated an A1 farm, and do not have any other farm under the land reform programme, I dare anyone to prove otherwise, and I have gone public with the documents that prove that the piece of land in question is freehold land that I bought.
Minister Mahofa should let this matter take its natural course, in terms of Government policy and the relevant laws of the land, instead of rushing the matter into a direction that suits her own, and other people’s, interests.

This is a shameful way for senior members of one Government to conduct their affairs in the public domain. It is unfortunate that the new Minister is so excited about her new deployment to the extent of disregarding Government communication methods, and is prepared to cast aside sacrosanct values, like returning land to its indigenous owners, just so that she can exercise spite against her perceived political adversaries.

The President has just called for the downsizing of excessively huge farms, in addition to his clarion call on checking the iniquity of multiple farm ownership. It is, in the circumstances, inconceivable and ideologically bankrupt for a senior Government official, who should know better, to defend both iniquities, let alone when such iniquities are by old colonial settler farmers.

The ongoing narrative about some farms being too strategic to take over is a misplacement of priorities, because, basically, all land is strategic before we get into debate about successful or unsuccessful land use.

Land should never be used as a tool for political revenge, vengeance or retribution by blacks against their own kind, as seems to be the case here.

Hon Eng Walter Mzembi (MP) is Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry


  • comment-avatar
    trevor 7 years ago


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    grabmore 7 years ago

    Walter makes it sound like it was just luck that he was “offered”” 367 hectares of the best farm in Masvingo …… an offer he thought he might as well just accept. Why not.

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    from this article, it is quite clear that Zimbabwe’s land policies are totally opaque and unworkable. the system in place now is designed to foster loyalty via patronage rather than productive agriculture.

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    Mixed Race 7 years ago

    I really salute the stand taken by Minister Mahofa.Her decision is full of common sense and wisdom.Minister Mzembi has admitted that he has land which he bought,therefore the question is-Why does he need this free government land when many people have no land at all? Has he utilized all of it to ask for more land?This is becoming a circus and it is exposing the weaknesses behind the land distribution policy.It is good that these ministers are tasting the evils behind this land distribution in an indirect way.How do you think this lady would feel if you take her land just using that piece of paper of allocation without her consent?
    The fact that you are now using the private media to state your side of the story, its clear proof that you feel terribly offended by the articles in the government media.This is what this lady has gone through when you were given that allocation letter without prior consultations with her.Well done Minister Mahofa.

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    When thieves fall out . . . Ha! Ha!

    The ONLY thing a person owns is what he PAID FOR

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    Mandevu 7 years ago

    They are all a bunch of thieves

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    wensil 7 years ago

    Yet another person who wants to claim that they deserve a farm just for being supporters of Zanu PF. This corrupt lot are taking farms for trophies with zero interest in farming itself.
    This is a full time minister who should focus on his ministerial post. This whole farm allocation is flawed and fifteen years on it’s still rumbling as everyone in Zanu PF wants a piece of the action.
    “do not have any other farm under the land reform programme” – so how many people do? The Zimbabwean population is way more than 500!

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    Justice 7 years ago

    It has long been proved that the Shona were not the original inhabitants of this land, they were settlers too. So claiming inequities from colonial settlers is rich. Poor Wally is claiming to be a victim in all this, if he had any conscience as he claims he would admit it is just greed that is driving him.Keep your hands off what is not yours.

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    Michael 7 years ago

    This is weird – this guy owns another farm, why should he be allocated a farm at all? It is a fact that owning another farm does not stop the ZANU-PF bigwigs from claiming further farms as their right. What is he doing or producing on the farm he purchased and in fact who did he purchase the farm from? Another ZANU-PF bigwig who would then qualify for another farm?

    There is an element here and it is clearly put in the Ten Commandments – people should not steal the property of others. Such actions when authorized by Government do not correct the theft issue – it makes it worse. It indicate that the Government is made up of Godless People and the fawning of people in Government actually prove they are shameless and guilty of human idolatry.

    The result in Zimbabwe of Government sanctioned theft is tragic and will be worse this year – when millions of Zimbabweans will starve – since the thieves will not produce the food to feed the nation. The thieves thrive the rest suffer. What a tragedy for the poor people of Zimbabwe!!!

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    Mukanya 7 years ago

    “My hands are clean”!! not so long ago a potential Gamatox (if he was active) candidate once uttered the same and GUESS what HAPPENED to him.

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    torai hupfumi 7 years ago

    No mr mzembi you are lucky you own one so let others gets one. You said you bought it with you own money,,,,,,, please may explain through this paper that some of items eg cars, shops which own whose money did you use. Yes ours(public) funds abused. Be serious and start to think of something else not this farm. You can even improve your home area and create employment, how about that one comrade.

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    njanja 7 years ago

    People people people, objectivity so lacks in zim. Why claim that mahofa is right. Let us audit her own farms. Im not saying mzembi is right either but the whole zanu program is a mess. They now realise the land is important to. Masvingo after firing mzembi?. Its a question of a lion calling a hyna a cannibal

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