Outcry over moves to cut farm sizes, Mugabe, ministers should also cut theirs

MASVINGO - The government has clashed with sugar cane farmers in Masvingo over its intended move to cut A2 farm sizes with farmers demanding that President Robert Mugabe and his cabinet should lead by example and cut their farm sizes first.

Masvingo provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa

Masvingo provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa

The farmers mostly Zanu PF supporters who grabbed sugar cane farms in the lowveld during the height of farm invasions were last week ordered to provide government with all information regarding  their farm sizes, a move that would see those with large sugar cane farms  being reduced.

In a letter to A2 farmers in Masvingo province including sugar cane growers the ministry of lands through  Masvingo provincial affairs minister’s office ordered all farmers to provide relevant information regarding their farm sizes before the end of October this year.

“Following a new policy adopted by government all farms which are very large and are being under utilized should be cut to size hence we are requesting you to give us information regarding your farm sizes,”read part of the letter.

“The idea is to make sure that all Zimbabweans get land and therefore those with very large farms should be ready to have them cut and share with others,”read part of the letter.

However The Zimbabwe Sugar Producers Association has reacted angrily to the move arguing that cabinet ministers including President Robert Mugabe should lead by example and cut their farm sizes too.

The association in response to the letter written to farmers by the ministry of lands said that they would not provide any information regarding their farm sizes unless cabinet ministers, President Robert Mugabe and his two deputies lead by example by publicly providing information regarding the sizes of their farms.

“We view the move by the ministry to cut sizes of our farms as being targeted to certain individuals hence we are not going to co-operate unless the head of state and his cabinet lead by example by publicly providing such information,”read part of the letter  written  by the association.

“We are all patriotic Zimbabweans who believe in sharing resources including land hence no one should be spared from having his farm cut to the required size,”read the letter.

ZSPA  President Simba Madungwe confirmed the development but refused to give details arguing that  by publicizing the matter it might jeopardize negotiations between the ministry and farmers.

“As you know no one would want his farm cut  but if it is a new government policy let it be applied to everyone,”said Madungwe.

Masvingo provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa down played the impasse . She said all was on course to cut to size large farms.

She however could not provide details as to which farm sizes were acceptable to government following the new policy.

“All is on course to reduce the sizes of farms ,”said Mahofa. ” I am referring to those with large A2 farms including sugar cane plots and as I speak now officials from the ministry of lands are on the ground compiling information on the sizes of all A2 farms in the province,”said Mahofa.

Individual sugar cane farmers have also rallied behind ZSPA saying they will not be cowed into submitting information about their farm sizes because some Zanu PF bigwigs had several big farms  which they were not utilizing.

“We do not want selective application of this policy,”said a farmer who refused to be named. “Cabinet ministers and even President Mugabe and his two deputies should lead by example and we will then follow suit,”added the farmer.

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