Zimbabwe judge tells owners of former white farms – “use it or lose it”

via Zimbabwe judge tells owners of former white farms to use land or risking losing it – Telegraph by Peta Thornycroft, Johannesburg 5:36PM GMT 04 Mar 2014

A judge in Zimbabwe has told President Robert Mugabe’s supporters who were given white farmers’ land that they should use it or facing losing it.

Judge Nicholas Mathonsi made his remarks in the Harare High Court as he denied an appeal by a member of the ruling Zanu-PF party against an earlier decision to allow Heather Guild, an evicted farmer, back on to a small part of her land.

The decision could mark a turning point in the long struggle by white farmers to be handed back their farms.

They were seized – often violently – under government orders in a so-called fast-track land reform programme that began in 2000.

In a seven-page judgment, Judge Mathonsi described failure to use land given out under the programme as “scandalous”.

He said: “The policy on land reform is not recreational, neither is it designed to accord beneficiaries some pastime. It is meant to benefit those willing and able to utilise land.

“One cannot be allowed to hold on to large tracts of land they are not using simply to baby-sit an inflated ego.

“If a beneficiary is not using the land that is a breach of the conditions upon which that land is offered. It should therefore be withdrawn and given to more deserving candidates.”

In his ruling Judge Mathonsi said the lands ministry could now withdraw its offer of Ms Guild’s farm to Fungai Chaeruika saying he had “breached” his contract by not using the land.

He also ordered Mr Chaeruika, a prominent provincial supporter of Mr Mugabe, to pay costs of the case.

Mr Chaeruik was given Ms Guild’s farm, Mapeta, in the hot and humid Burma Valley district by Mr Mugabe’s government at the height of the land invasions.

Ms Guild, like thousands of other evicted white farmers, fought in the courts to keep her 1,200-acre farm, which she bought after Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain in 1980.

Former farmers in the area say that Mr Chaeruika, who also took over several other farms, use just an acre of Ms Guild’d property. They say that local farm workers lost their jobs after she was forced out and supported her efforts to get her property back.

Ms Guild approached Joseph Msika, the late former Zimbabwe vice-president, seeking permission to stay on a portion of her land, and was eventually given an official letter from the government saying she could return home. She resumed vegetable cultivation and employed about 150 workers.

A former farmer in the district close to Ms Guild’s farm said: “Chaeruika was furious, and he went to the High Court to overturn Heather’s permission to stay on the farm. This took three years, and Judge Mathonsi has now ruled against him.”

A solicitor in Harare who has represented many farmers in their efforts to stay on their land said: “This was an extraordinary judgment. We don’t know if this means something or it is just one of those things, an exception to the rule, but a lot depends on it.”

He said many were wondering whether the judgment would be taken to the Supreme Court on appeal. “At least those workers will keep their jobs for the moment,” he said.

Zimbabwe’s economy crashed after 2000 when the production of tobacco, the main foreign currency earner, crashed as white farmers were forced of their land. By 2008, the Zimbabwe dollar was worthless and the economy ground to a halt.

Tens of thousands of small-scale farmers have since begun to grow tobacco on some confiscated white-owned land, but many of the most productive commercial farms prior to 2000 remain fallow.

Zimbabwe, once a net a food exporter now regularly relies on Western donors, including Britain, to feed the population.


  • comment-avatar
    Roving Ambassador 8 years ago

    Bless her. Just hope the mafia will not us the back door.

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    Nyoni 8 years ago


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      Reader 8 years ago

      And pay them regular and proper rate, and care for them when sick, and help send the children to school and, and and.

      Responsible employers thats what they are.

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    Tongoona 8 years ago

    Justice Manthonsi well done because ZANU PF land grabbers invaded the former white farms for speculation reasons and false status building. How in Zimbabwe can one person own 15 to 20 farms. Zimbabwe’s surface area is just over 580 000 square kilometers with very fixed boundaries with Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa and Botswana. This means our land size is rigidly fixed. While Justice Manthonsi’s judgement is but the heats to the main race ahead, former white farmers must view this judgement with caution because the judgement is not a tittle deed but the start of civilization in the dark ages of the resettlement program.

    The former white farms have been rundown beyond reasonable restoration costs, ZANU PF government has no money to fund the restoration program and has now hatched a plan to use former white farmers to restore the farms but with no guarantee that thereafter ZANU PF will not forcefully take the farms again.

    To correct this situation, radical measures must be put in place first like Land Audit, implementation and management of the One-family one farm policy, non politicization of land resettlement program, law and order and strict enforcement of it, objective and non partisan land allocation and the reactivation of Trespass laws. With all due respect to the rule of law, the Manhonsi judgement just broke the ice while the whole situation remains under a thick layer of imponderables.

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    We don’t need the fake papers of EU what we need is activity and we trust our property and resource to Chinese aid to rebuild Africa; while we chase the deceitful ones ‘EU’ and their followers, the EU are those who mix the truth and the untruth, the reality and fake, they led the world previously but not now that is why they are running after Africa in particular Zimbabwe

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    Nyoni 8 years ago

    @TONGOONA .GOOD POINT YOU HAVE SAID. Be cautious fellow Zimbabweans. The nyoka awaits to strike again.

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    The blacks are blessed this resourceful land by GOD, it is up to them to grow or leave it dry, there is no way for EU to interfere!

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    DubboZimbo 8 years ago

    Umaari, you are an idiot. Fine you want the choice to farm or not, don’t expect the world to feed your hungry children.

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    Godfrey 8 years ago

    Pliz can u keep on doing the land auditing annually so that those who grabbed more than one farm could surrender some for other pple who can do production.