Kondozi Farm invasion revisited

HARARE - Businessman and former Kondozi Estate owner Edwin Moyo has launched a book detailing the invasion of his lucrative farm by “greedy Zanu PF politicians” at the height of the controversial and chaotic land reform programme in 2004.

Moyo told delegates attending the launch of his book entitled My Kondozi Story — The People’s Hope Pillaged on Wednesday in Harare that it was time for the whole world to know the truth about Zanu PF’s disastrous policies.

“The book is more about the sorrow, sadness and pain of thousands of people whose lives depended on Kondozi,” he said.

At the time of the invasion, Moyo owned 52 percent of 550-hectare farm and thrived at what was traditionally a white man’s business, running a horticultural company that stocked vegetable bins throughout Britain and brought in $15 million a year to the country.

Information at hand shows that a group of top government officials — including Information minister Chris Mushowe — who lived in Manicaland area coveted Kondozi for themselves and were eager to punish independent farmers, seeing them as the financial base for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

“They labelled me a crook, a fraud and a front for white men. It’s amazing how people who contribute significantly to the country’s gross domestic product are treated as criminals while those who are making money for themselves are heroes,” Moyo said.

Moyo was accused by the Zanu PF-led government of being a front for his partners Piet De Klerk and Adrian Zeenberg at Kondozi, which employed 15 000 people between 1997 and 2004.

Zimbabwe embarked on a controversial land reform programme in the year 2000 that saw at least 4 000 white commercial farmers being forced off their productive farms to pave way for over 440 000 landless blacks.

The former farm owners in many cases fled to Britain, Australia or over the border to Zambia, where the agricultural industry is flourishing.

However, the former farm workers have become destitute after they were also forced off the land when the political elites invaded the land.

In the process, Zimbabwe has been transformed from a nation that was known as southern Africa’s breadbasket into a country where hunger is common.

Official figures indicate that at least 4,5 million people — more than a third of Zimbabwe’s 13 million people — are desperately in need of food aid due to an El Nino-induced drought.

Bank of Zambia former governor Caleb Fundanga, who was guest of honour at the book launch, said what happened in Zimbabwe should never be allowed to occur anywhere in Africa.

“African countries must learn from Zimbabwe’s mistake where people’s hopes were pillaged by a few individuals through the destruction of a diversified agricultural system. The story of the collapse of the Zimbabwean dollar is well known,” he said.

Fundanga said it was no wonder that Zimbabwe moved from being “an African jewel” to a net importer of food, and in the process benefited a number of countries in the sub-region such as Malawi and Zambia, which had previously imported from Zimbabwe.

Following the establishment of the Inclusive Government in 2009, Moyo reinvented himself and started a horticultural project in the country and has also secured a deal to supply agriculture products to the European market.  

 

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