Threats against farmers thwart progress

The Zanu (PF) leadership in Mashonaland West is causing unnecessary uncertainty in the agricultural sector by threatening to expel the few remaining commercial farmers in the province, says Commercial Farmers Union president Charles Taffs.


He told The Zimbabwean that utterances made by the Zanu (PF) provincial chairman, Themba Mliswa, were regrettable and would only serve to destabilise the sector at a time people were looking to move forward on the land issue.

At a meeting with commercial farmers in Chinhoyi recently, Mliswa gave the farmers until May 15 to leave their farms, but Taffs said the affected farmers were still in the dark as they had not received any official communication from government. Out of 74 commercial farmers still in the province only 11 received offer letters while four were given 99 year leases.

“The farmers are confused. We are not sure if Mliswa was speaking government policy or his personal view. What concerns me is that people can be allowed to make such statements when there is no official communication from the ministry of lands which handles such issues,” said Taffs, adding that such statements would destabilise efforts to revive the agricultural sector and scare away potential investors.

“If land is controlled by politicians in this manner how are we supposed to get agriculture back on track? No one is going to invest in such an environment,” he said.

The CFU president urged the government to sort out land ownership once and for all. “We are saying let’s get this thing sorted out and let’s get back to real farming,” he said.

Senior officials in the province, including ministers, have been accused of illegally leasing land to commercial farmers who were disposed of their farms during the violent land takeovers.

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