via White farmers to get offer letters | The Herald July 13, 2015
At least six white commercial farmers have been recommended by the Masvingo provincial leadership to get offer letters under the model A2 scheme across the province after their operations were considered to be of strategic economic importance.
Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Senator Shuvai Mahofa, who chairs the provincial lands committee, has since signed a schedule with names of the six white farmers to be issued with offer letters.
The offer letters will be signed by the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement, Dr Douglas Mombeshora, who on Friday revealed that Government had no land policy that discriminated against whites.
While the full list of the six white farmers could not be obtained, sources said the prospective beneficiaries were involved in poultry, dairy farming and “pedigree” bulls production.
Top on the list of the recommended white farmers is Mrs Helen Mitchell of Barquest Farm, about 20km southeast of Masvingo, who specialises in the production of day-old chicks.
Mrs Mitchell, who produces about 100 000 day-old chicks per week, has been involved in a tug-of-war for control of Barquest Farm with Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi.
Also on the list of prospective beneficiaries is Mr John Boland of Masvingo district who is a “pedigree” bulls producer together with a dairy farmer, Mrs Yvonne Goddard, who also hails from the same district. Another dairy farmer, Mr Johannes Nel of Gutu, is also set to get an offer letter.
Names of two other white farmers could not be established, but they were said to be into dairy farming and hybrid bull production in Mwenezi and Chiredzi districts.
Dr Mombeshora said there were many white farmers who have been issued with offer letters since the inception of the land reform programme.
“We do not discriminate when issuing offer letters or permits. We do not have a separate policy for white people when it comes to land distribution and there are plenty of whites that have received offer letters in this country,’’ he said.
“In fact, we have asked provinces to give us the names of white farmers they want to remain on farms so that we can give them security of tenure documents to enable them to plan their operations properly,’’ he added.
Dr Mombeshora said the situation of white farmers was different from that of foreigners who were supposed to comply with the country’s indigenisation and empowerment laws first before they could get operating leases.
Senator Mahofa confirmed that they had recommended some white farmers in Masvingo province to get offer letters.
“We have already signed and forwarded a schedule with a list of white farmers to the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement after we considered their contribution to the province’s economy,’’ she said.
She disclosed that Mrs Mitchell was one of the prospective beneficiaries.
“Mrs Mitchell’s case was dealt with a long time ago and she is on the list of white farmers that we recommended,’’ she added.
If Mrs Mitchell gets an offer letter for Barquest Farm, it will bring closure to a long-running battle for the control of the farm located on the shores of Lake Mutirikwi. Minister Mzembi was in January this year also issued with an offer letter for 376 hectares at Barquest Farm that had been gazetted for acquisition under the land reform programme.
However, the Masvingo provincial lands committee recommended the withdrawal of Minister Mzembi’s offer letter after it later emerged that Mrs Mitchell’s state-of-the-art incubator for chicks’ production was housed on the gazetted part of the farm.
Dr Mombeshora visited the farm with members of the provincial lands committee a few months ago and said his ministry was going to make a decision on the fate of the farm.