White farmer fights for lost farm

BULAWAYO - Figtree farmer, David Connolly who lost his farm to former president Robert Mugabe’s top aide, Ray Ndhlukula has questioned President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s sincerity on addressing the plight of farmers who lost their land at the height of the land reform programme.

In his inauguration speech in November last year, Mnangagwa promised to compensate the white farmers whose land was seized under the Mugabe regime as he appealed for sanctions to be lifted and for foreign investors to help to rebuild his shattered country.

He pledged to repay the 5 000 people driven from their land after Mugabe encouraged liberation war veterans and poor blacks to seize farms, machinery and crops from their white neighbours.

Speaking to Southern News, following the appeal by the president, Connolly whose protracted fight to regain his Centenary farm is still at the courts, feels the situation on the ground showed signs of a government without capacity to compensate.

“Mnangagwa said there should be compensation for white farmers but Chinamasa (Patrick) came up with a budget that does not have compensation for white farmers, so we would assume that if he was genuine in his comments he should have $5-10 million set aside for compensation,” Connolly said.

He said if Mnangagwa meant it he would have included the compensatory plan in Chinamasa’s recent budget.

“From a Zimbabwean government point of view they are not prepared to pay the compensation otherwise they could have put it in the budget. So it’s easy to talk but to do the walk is a different matter. I don’t believe that he is being genuine when he said he is willing to compensate,” he said.

Connolly added that Chinamasa as minister of Finance had a Lima Agreement with the international community that Zimbabwe should compensate what is due to the white farmers as part of the deal.

“So what he is trying to do is unlock international funds and he is trying to do that by saying they will compensate the farmers but he is not putting any of his money there,” he said.

Connolly further noted that it was clear that Mnangagwa’s government was expecting to compensate the farmers using money from the international community yet the chaotic land reform was purely a political game.

“He is expecting the international community to fund something that was purely and simply a political game for Zanu PF to remain in power. It’s clear that they learnt from the past that they are going to lose the elections so they have to act.”

Turning to his farm that he has struggled to retain, Connolly said he has since taken the matter to Southern African Development Community (Sadc) to have it addressed.

“I filed papers against the president, minister of Agriculture and minister of Finance on August 15. I filed using the Sadc investment Protocol, which says I have an investment which has been taken away from me and I haven’t been able to establish myself because I have not been paid up for that investment.

“That allows six months for the government to come to me and say can we discuss this and resolve this and it expires on February 15. I filed with the International Tribunal. That’s why I got interested when the president in his maiden speech said he wants to abide by the Sadc protocol,” he said.

Connolly also indicated that he was going to write a letter to Mnangagwa informing him that he filed a case against his predecessor Mugabe.

Connolly accused Ndhlukula of using his powers to circumvent  court proceedings to his favour.

“Ray remains in contempt of court, he appealed against it and I haven’t had a set down judgment for that. He circumvented the court system and took a High Court judge of his choice. He needs to appear before a Supreme Court and confirm whether he is in contempt or not.”

In August, Connolly received a letter from government which informed him that he could go back to the farm and utilise about 800 hectares while about 1 330 remained in the hands of Ndhlukula.

However, the farmer is still heartbroken.

“We went back in December but the main source of water and main part of the farm is what Ray is occupying so productivity wise there is nothing much I can do unless I get back my farm in full,” Connolly said.

Ever since Ndhlukula took over, he has only managed to utilise about 15 hectares and a recent visit to the farm indicated that he has since put up a fence for the piece that is under irrigation only.


 

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