via ZANU PF lures chiefs with promise of sugar cane farms | SW Radio Africa by Tererai Karimakwenda November 28, 2013
A ZANU PF provincial executive has promised traditional chiefs in Masvingo that they will all be allocated sugar cane farms in the lowveld before his term of office is up, a promise that has been ridiculed as a ploy by a farmer from the area.
The Minister of State for Masvingo and Mwenezi East, MP Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, whose term ends in 2018, told delegates at a provincial meeting in Masvingo that he was already working with the Lands Ministry to make sure all Masvingo chiefs got the cane farms.
But according to Gerry Whitehead, a Chiredzi farmer who travels in the lowveld extensively, most of the sugar cane farms have already been taken by ZANU PF and most were allocated to military chefs and top party cronies.
“There are absolutely no farms left here at all. They have taken everything it’s all been given out to the military and to the upper ministers. There are no other sugar cane farms that they can take,” Whitehead told SW Radio Africa.
He said the only possibility Bhasikiti could be considering is the area near the Tokwe Mukosi Dam that is being built in the lowveld. The dam already has water in it and construction is almost complete.
According to whitehead, the dam is opening up an estimated 30,000 hectares of land that will be available for farming, but it will take highly trained and experienced farmers and not rural chiefs to start growing sugar cane there.
Whitehead said the promise made by MP Bhasikiti is just another ZANU PF ploy to make the traditional leaders happy, adding: “They’ve got them on side now already through fear and through giving them farms and land and all sorts of promises.”
ZANU PF is known to have used traditional chiefs and sabhukus to mobilize their communities to vote for Robert Mugabe and for ZANU PF candidates in the July 31st elections. These traditional leaders are also being used to distribute food on a partisan basis, with MDC-T supporters being denied. In turn, they receive monthly allowances and are rewarded with top of the range vehicles and other perks.
As for the sugar cane farms in the lowveld that were already taken by ZANU PF, Whitehead said they are now producing 60% of what they used to. The only reason they are producing at all is because sugar companies like Tongaat Hulett have been hired by the military and political chefs to do the farming for them.