By Tatenda Dewa | Harare Bureau |
Joice Mujuru’s apparently populist gesture to compensate a white farmer whose land her family violently seized during the fast track land redistribution programme has opened a can of worms, with a local businessman revealing that the Mujurus grabbed his farms too and no compensation was made.
Mujuru promised to compensate Guy Watson-Smith for infrastructural improvements to Ruzambo Farm in Beatrice during a recent visit to London.
Her husband, the late Solomon who ironically died in an inferno at the same farm in 2011, gave Guy-Smith 24 hours to leave the farm or face death by shooting in the early months of the land redistribution programme that commenced in 2000 and forced off some 6,000 commercial white farmers.
Tawanda Nyambirai, whose business interests include retail, banking and telecommunications, queried why Mujuru, now the interim president of the Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) opposition party after being kicked out of Zanu PF where she grew up by President Robert, was opting to compensate Guy-Smith alone.
In an interview with the government-controlled Herald, Nyambirai said the Mujurus pushed his brothers and relatives off three farms he privately owned in Mashonaland East province, namely Kopje Alleen, The Beach and Rusfontein, through his companies Naval Phase Farming (Pvt) Ltd and Beach Farms (Pvt) Ltd.
He accused Mujuru, who only became critical of Mugabe and the ruling Zanu PF when she was expelled in early 2015, of hypocrisy.
“I am not against the principle of compensation because it is provided for in the Constitution. What I find strange is that they took farms belonging to black people like me but find it prudent to compensate a white (former) farmer whom they took land from,” said Nyambirai.
“She is being insincere. For someone who participated in taking farms from whites and now suddenly wants to pretend to be clean and offer compensation when she deprived black people by unlawfully taking their farms and giving them to their relatives, that’s hypocritical.”
Nyambirai queried why Mujuru was raising the issue of compensating whites after being booted out of Zanu PF for allegedly seeking to topple Mugabe.
“I am not a politician and would not want to discuss the politics around it. But as someone who suffered at the hands of the late general who took my farms and gave them to his relatives, I find it awkward.
“The question that arises is why now when she no longer wields the power that she had when she took land from those people including myself,” said Nyambirai.
He took the dispute around the seizure of his farms to the High Court, but Priscilla Chigumba, who Mugabe is now hounding for ruling in favour of civil protests seeking his exit, threw it out.
The businessman, however, said he was applying to the Supreme Court to have his case reconsidered.
He added that Mujuru’s promise to compensate Guy-Smith would drive an avalanche of applications from people like him who also needed to be compensated by her.
Guy-Smith, however, seems to have denied that Mujuru offered him compensation for Ruzambo.
The Zimbabwean constitution provides for compensation for white farmers whose land was taken over during the fast track programme.
Mujuru’s entry into opposition politics has received mixed feelings, with her critics accusing her of being part of the machinery that caused the political, social and economic suffering of Zimbabweans, having been a cabinet minister between 1980 and 2004 and Mugabe’s from then to last year. Nehanda Radio