HARARE - Government has dumped orphaned and disadvantaged children after seizing a farm from a non-governmental organisation (NGO) looking after the children and allocated it to Bindura University.
Save Our Souls (SOS) Zimbabwe has lost one of its farms, Glen Avilin Farm 3 in Bindura, after the ministry of Lands gave the university an offer letter for the farm.
The NGO was utilising the 534-hectare farm to produce food for more than 600 orphans to sustain itself.
Gary Birditt, director of SOS Children’s Villages Zimbabwe, told the Daily News yesterday that the ministry of Lands took over the farm without consulting them.
“It was handed over to the Bindura State University on June 12,” Birditt said.
“There was no consultation prior to the takeover. On the day of handover of the farm, June 12, an offer letter in favour of the Bindura State University was produced by the Bindura State University senior staff.”
Birditt said his organisation used part of the farm to cultivate soya beans and seed maize, while the ministry of Agriculture was leasing some land.
“The farm was recently under seed maize and soya; both crops have just been harvested,” he said.
“Full time training of agricultural and engineering students had ceased, apart from training being conducted by the ministry of Agriculture who are leasing some land, hostel accommodation and training room facilities from SOS Children’s Village,” he said.
The Daily News crew paid a visit to the farm on Tuesday and it was deserted.
Offices were locked and the SOS supermarket was closed.
The NGO is now left with one farm at Maizelands in Bindura and aso a number of schools in the town.
Martin Dinha, the minister of state for Mashonaland Central, yesterday declined to comment on the seizure.
“Who told you about this? I want names so that I can be able to assist you. Without giving me names I will not be able to comment,” Dinha said.
Douglas Mombeshora, the Lands and Rural Resettlement minister, was unreachable for comment.
SOS runs a number of schools and children’s villages in Bindura.
The aid agency came to Zimbabwe soon after independence.
SOS Children’s Village Bindura comprises 15 family houses with a capacity to take in up to 180 children, an administration building, a multi-purpose hall, a sports field and a house for the village director.
The adjoining SOS kindergarten consists of three group rooms and a playground and can accommodate up to 90 children.
The SOS vocational training centre at Maizelands farm has been operational since 1983.
It comprises three branches namely agricultural training, farming, and car mechanics. It has a capacity to take in up to 130 youths.
On 1 400 hectares of farmland, millet, cotton, peppers, sun flowers, soybeans and citrus fruit are cultivated.
The farm provides the SOS Children’s Village with agricultural products and contributes towards its maintenance through the sale of its products.
It also runs two SOS Hermann Gmeiner primary schools, one for up to 990 pupils on the premises of the SOS Children’s Village and a second one for up to 1,080 pupils on the site of the Maizelands farm.
The aid agency also runs the SOS Hermann Gmeiner Secondary School.