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Minister Shiri Denies Discrimination In Farm Seizures, Says Downsizing Is National Strategy

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Fin24

THE Zimbabwe government has denied that it is targeting white-owned farms, saying that it is downsizing is a national strategy that is being applied without discrimination.

This follows claims in local media that productive white-owned farms were being targeted in land seizures in the country’s Mashonaland West province.

Weekly publication the Zimbabwe Independent reported on Friday last week that senior government officials were planning to seize two farms owned by Peter Drummond and Robert Davenport respectively.

Drummond’s farm which is 2 800ha in size, reportedly supplies 70 tonnes of chicken per month to retailers; while Davenport’s farm, which is 1 800ha in size, reportedly produces export blueberries.

Zimbabwe’s government, however, insists there are no plans to seize the abovementioned farms, although both are now subject for downsizing.

Size limit

In a statement released on Thursday, Agriculture Minister Perrance Shiri said downsizing the two farms is part of a broader national strategy to downsize all farms in the country and not necessarily targeted at white-owned farms.

According to Statutory Instrument 41 of 2020 Sections 5 and 6 farms will be downsized in terms of their ecological region.

Farms in Mashonaland West province, where the two farms are located, are not allowed to be bigger than 500ha.
“It is therefore in line with Government policy that the Ministry is undertaking a nationwide exercise of regulating farm sizes to comply with the gazetted maximum farm size of each respective ecological region,” Shiri said.

Shiri added that the implementation process to downsize farms, is “being religiously pursued without any bias, discrimination, nepotism and favouritism”.

“Regularisation of farm sizes is a transparent government exercise which is being done without consideration of one’s colour or creed,” Shiri wrote in the statement.

Controversial

The decision to downsize farms has been gazetted as a national strategy. However, it has proved controversial, with government claiming it has been applied without discrimination, while critics claim the exercise has targeted white-owned farms and opponents of president Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.

Exiled former minister in the Robert Mugabe government, Saviour Kasukuwere, accused government of targeting his “productive farm” for political reasons.

“We know it’s targeted. A lot has been happening against this very person ever since the coup and largely to try and destroy what we have worked for. Government is using land to attack those they think are against them. That is pettiness and we must be above that. We have many challenges affecting the country that we have to deal with,” Kasukuwere told Zimbabwe media earlier this year.