Chipinge coffee farm invasion: Minister, Wadyajena go underground

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By Anna Chibamu and Audience Mutema

THE saga around Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister Ellen Gwaradzimba’s bid to allocate a farm owned by a white commercial farmer to her son took a twist after she and Parliamentary Committee on Lands chairperson Justice Mayor Wadyajena failed to turn up for a proposed hearing.

Gwaradzimba also chairs the Manicaland Provincial Lands Committee that stands accused of trying to corruptly allocate the coffee estate owned by Richard Le Leviex to the Minister’s son.

Wadyajena, according to committee members, did not communicate his decision or reasons for his no-show while Gwaradzimba in a letter to Clerk of Parliament early Tuesday, claimed she had been held up dealing with the accident that claimed 19 lives in Chivu. Most of the victims were from Manicaland’s Buhera district.

“I would like to inform you that we are unable to attend. Our failure to show up for the meeting is due to lack of preparedness as we have been seized with the Feartherstone accident which claimed 19 lives from Buhera district and His Excellency Emmerson Mnangagwa’s visit to Manicaland on Monday (July1),” read part of the letter.

Wadyajena was not picking calls when efforts were made to get his comment.

Gwaradzimba’s son Rememberance Mbudzana is now locked in a bitter ownership dispute with Le Leviex amid reports Cabinet last week resolved that the Minister’s son must be evicted.

Reports indicate that sometime in January this year, the Ministry of Lands offered Mbudzana a portion of the estate (Lot 1) under Farfell Coffee Estates which is owned by Chipinge farmer Le Vieux.

While the dispute between Mbudzana and Le Vieux spilled into the courts, the government, through then acting Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Oppah Muchinguri announced that Mbudzana’s offer letter had been revoked.

Le Vieux was guaranteed continued tenure of the farm.

“After taking all factors into consideration, Cabinet resolved and directed as follows (a) that Mr Le Vieux be issued with an offer letter for his portion of Farfell Coffee Estates, that is Lot 2 (220 hectares) in keeping with the government framework of maximum farm sizes (b) that if he so wishes, Mr Le Vieux be issued with an appropriate lease agreement with respect to Lot 1, so as to guarantee continuity of the very productive and strategic commercial operations currently taking place at Lot 1; (c) that the offer letter of Lot 1 (229 hectares) to Mr Mbudzana be consequently revoked,” Muchinguri said early this year.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has been trying to project an image of a government that is in control by refusing to tolerate any more invasions.

Zimbabwe embarked on the controversial land reform exercise that former President Robert Mugabe claimed was aimed at redressing colonial land imbalances.

However, the programme has been blamed for the country’s economic and political problems.