Chefs and war vets sell land

War veterans are investigating numerous reports that people who benefited from the accelerated land redistribution programme are selling the land they were given.

Cephas Msipa: sub-divided 400-ha farm and is selling plots for $15,000 each.
Cephas Msipa: sub-divided 400-ha farm and is selling plots for $15,000 each.

The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA) said they had received numerous reports about the matter, following revelations that a Zanu (PF) politburo member and former Midlands province governor and minister, Cephas Msipa, had subdivided his 400-hectare property into residential stands and was selling them for $15,000 each.

“We have been hearing cases of comrades sub-leasing or selling residential stands at the farms they acquired for free. We are looking into these, starting with the one that involves Msipa,” said Shadreck Makombe, secretary general of the ZNLWVA, who last year survived a nearly fatal road accident that he blamed on his enemies in the party.

The war veterans criticised Msipa, saying his residential development project is “anti-revolutionary and opposes the values of the liberation struggle, which maintained that land acquisition was not supposed to be commercial.”

Msipa told The Zimbabwean he was conducting the project above board for a noble cause. “I got authority from the ministry of lands to sell the stands because I want to raise money for the CG Msipa Scholarship Trust, which is helping a lot of children who drop out of schools and universities,” he said. Unki Mine, Steel Makers, Mimosa, Murowa Diamonds and Safeguard Security make financial donations to the trust, but Msipa said the money was not enough.

In early 2000, shortly after the formation of the MDC as a major opposition party, President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) government embarked on a corruption–riddled campaign to remove hundreds of white commercial farmers and thousands of black workers from their farms – purportedly to resettle thousands of land hungry blacks.

War vets were at the forefront of the often violent land acquisitions. Most of the prime land and big farms went to top politicians and well-connected individuals, while the majority of communal smallholder farmers were resettled on small patches of rocky and unfertile land with little or no infrastructure.

Measuring 400 hectares, the farm given to Mspia is located 10Km from Gweru along Matobo road which connects the city with Nkayi. At its peak, the farm was famous for abundant production of dairy products, cereals and vegetables, but a recent visit revealed that this had dwindled significantly.

The price of the two-hectare residential stands at the new suburb, now known as Sithabile Park after Msipa’s late wife, is pegged at $3 per square metre. Desperate home seekers are given an option to make one-off payments of $15,000 for each plot.

The Zimbabwean news crew visited the farm recently and found several people had already begun building foundations for houses. Road works have also begun. Some residents were witnessed trying to sink boreholes, as no water infrastructure has been provided yet. “We have been promised that all services, including electricity and water, will be made available. But we are yet to be given title deeds because we are paying for the stands in instalments,” said one of the people at the site, who declined to be named.

According to sources from the Vungu Rural District Council, which has jurisdiction over the area, there were never plans to establish a residential area. But no official comment could be obtained because the Chief Executive Officer, Wellington Ngulube, is on suspension for charges he says are politically motivated. He claimed he was being persecuted for opposing un-procedural parcelling out of land in the district and sand poaching by top officials in the Midlands province.

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