By Prince Kurupati
News coming out of Zimbabwe say that President Mnangagwa has opened a probe into former President, Robert Mugabe’s land grabs. Daily newspaper, Newsday state that the President has already opened investigations aimed at unravelling the exact number of farms owned by the former President with a view of possible reallocation.
According to Newsday, Mugabe has 14 farms, most of which are in the Mazoe region, one of the most productive farming regions in Zimbabwe. It is believed that Mugabe acquired most of these farms during the infamous Land Reform era of the early 2000s when most white commercial farmers lost they farms in often-violent farm invasions.
Mugabe reportedly owns the following farms in Norton (satellite town to Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital), Bassiville Farm (1 200ha) Clifford Farm (1 050ha), John O’Groat Farm (760ha), Tankatara Farm (575ha), and Cressydale Estate (676ha).
In Banket (93, 7 km North West of Harare), Mugabe owns Highfield Farm (445ha) and Leverdale Farm (1 488ha).
In Mazoe Mugabe owns Gwina Farm (1 455ha), Gwebi Wood (1 200ha), Sigaru Farm (873ha), Iron Mask Estate (1 046ha), Gushungo Dairies (1 000ha), and Gushungo Estate (4 046ha). In total, Mugabe owns 16 000 hectares in a country in which the Land Policy talks about “one man one farm” and stipulates a maximum of 2 000ha for region 5, the region with the highest farm sizes.
In addition to his 14 farms, Mugabe and his wife, Grace Mugabe were in the process of adding one more farm before the November 2017 military intervention which subsequently led to Mugabe’s resignation. Grace Mugabe had already started evicting some black farmers when the military took over but had not yet established herself on the Manzou Farm.
Reports suggest Grace Mugabe was planning to construct a secondary school and hospital while others suggest that it was to be the site for the proposed Robert Gabriel Mugabe University.
It is also reported that the Mugabe Family owned another farm, Mazoe Citrus Estate which they were leasing to businessman, Hamish Rudland.
The politics of patronage that characterised the Mugabe era meant that several close relatives, friends, and acquaintances of Mugabe had big pieces of land themselves with some owning more than one farm. Mugabe’s brother in law, Reward Marufu, nephews Leo Mugabe and Patrick Zhuwawo reportedly owned more than two farms.
Newsday reports that Mnangagwa has tasked Perance Shiri, the former Air Force Marshall during Mugabe’s reign who is now the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, and Rural Resettlement to oversee the probe. Shiri heads the Land Department and sources with the Department say that he has already ordered a compilation of Mugabe’s farms for possible allocation.
The source said that Shiri ordered all Directors in the Land, Agriculture, and Rural Resettlement ministry to compile full lists that show all the properties owned by Mugabe including his wife and children.
Shiri hasn’t confirmed nor denied the probe but Martin Dinha, the Minister for Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs; the province housing most of Mugabe’s properties said that the issue was too sensitive for him to comment on.