By Jeffrey Muvundusi
Figtree farmer, David Connolly who lost his farm to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s top aide Ray Ndhlukula, has made an amazing rant against the Zanu PF strongman by accusing him of not being sincere in his re-engagement drive.
Connolly did not hide his bitterness against Mnangagwa, whom he felt should have saved his farm from being given to Ndhlukula.
Ndhlukula, who is the deputy chief secretary in the office of the President and Cabinet recently won the legal battle over ownership of Figtree Farm being Subdivision ‘A’ of Centenary situated in the Bulilima District in Matabeleland South province following a Supreme Court ruling.
The court said the farm in dispute was State land and had been gazetted under the land reform programme by government.
The farm was gazetted for acquisition by the State on January 31, 2003 under General Notice 37 of 2003 and was subsequently acquired by the State in 2005 by virtue of the Constitutional Amendment No 17 of 2005.
But Connolly, who had lived on the farm for nearly 50 years, said the court decision was a sign that the Zanu PF government was not willing to re-engage honestly with the international community as well as white farmers.
“Basically, I was surprised with the judgment. It’s quite shocking how the government has treated me on this matter.
“I know it’s because I have a white skin hence I am being denied my rights which I deserve like any other Zimbabwean citizen.
“We have a Constitutional Court; I think we have to challenge the Constitution there.
“We just have to see what is good for us but we should be able to do that before the elections such that the international community is aware that president Mnangagwa is all about rhetoric,” said Connolly.
“Mnangagwa is saying Zimbabwe is open for business yet on the other hand is doing the opposite.
“He can’t do that when he is expecting to win in the next election.
“He is chasing white farmers at a time he has promised to address their plight,” he added.
In his inauguration speech in November last year, Mnangagwa promised to compensate the white farmers whose land was seized under the then president Robert Mugabe regime.
Connolly said Mnangagwa’s re-engagements efforts could be in vain if he does not address outstanding issues such as repressive laws which he claimed made his bid to attract investment difficult.
“Mnangagwa has got a lot to do, he must repeal some of these draconian laws like Aippa (Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act) and Posa (Public Order and Security Act) among others then he can approach the international community and say Zimbabwe is open for business.”
At its peak, Centenary farm employed slightly above 100 villagers around Figtree and benefitted at least 600 families from the surrounding settlements.
Connolly claimed these families have lost their livelihoods because of the eviction and are now struggling to make ends meet.
Under the Connollys, the farm was a leading supplier of green vegetables, beef and milk around Bulawayo and Plumtree.
In 2001, Mugabe introduced laws which his government claimed were aimed at distributing land equitably between black subsistence farmers and white Zimbabweans of European ancestry who had occupied the best agricultural land in Zimbabwe.
But new black land owners have failed to match the standards of white commercial farmers — and at worst have either under-utilised or totally abandoned once vibrant farms acquired from white commercial farmers during the 2000 chaotic and bloody agrarian reforms. –DailyNews