Mugabe, the land baron
Nothing like a President and his wife going shopping for a few farms for free. Not just any farms – only fertile ones. At least he can look after himself and his family whilst the country declines into even more poverty – and at least he won’t have to look at his starving people from his farm window. True African leadership in operation – what you want, you take. Hey America,UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Europe et al….where is your outrage now? What do you think would have happened by now were this a white president of a black majority country?
President Robert Mugabe is one of the biggest landowners in Zimbabwe. A Sunday Times investigation has found that he and his family own at least 10 farms through Gushungo Holdings (Pvt) Ltd.
Gushungo is Mugabe’s clan name.
The company owns 10601ha of fertile land in the country’s northern regions.
The Commercial Farmers’ Union says that of the original 4500 large-scale white commercial farms, only 300 remain.
Mugabe and his family acquired a significant chunk of that farmland.
In 2008 – eight years after the land reform programme started – Mugabe’s wife, Grace, grabbed Gwina Farm in Banket from high court Judge Ben Hlatshwayo.
He tried to fight her in the courts, but withdrew under intense political pressure – not before he had exposed Mugabe and his family as multiple farm- owners, in violation of government policy.
He revealed that the family, through Gushungo Holdings, owned Mazowe, Sigaro, Leverdale and Bassiville farms.
He eventually lost Gwina Farm to Grace Mugabe in dramatic fashion. He was forced out and promised another farm in an estate owned by the state-run Agricultural and Rural Development Authority, Transau, in Mutare.
When that failed to materialise, he moved into Kent Estate, in Norton, on land owned by Ariston Holdings.
Before being thrown out by Grace, he filed a high court application suing Gushungo Holdings – which Grace used for the takeover – and former state security minister Didymus Mutasa, who was then also minister of lands. Mutasa is now presidential affairs minister in the president’s office.
In his court application, signed on November 6 2008, Judge Hlatshwayo, a Harvard University-trained lawyer and former lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, said Grace’s actions were illegal and the court should stop her.
“I have been in quiet, undisturbed, peaceful possession, occupation and production at Gwina Farm from December 2002 until October 19 2008,” he said.
He said Grace’s farm managers arrived without warning on Sunday October 19 at 7am, and told him to cease farming and move out.
Before leaving, they said he would get further details from Mutasa or senior ministry officials.
He immediately contacted his superiors, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku and justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, who said he should find out more because it could have been the “work of conmen”.
When he got in touch with Mutasa, his worst fears were confirmed: Grace Mugabe wanted the farm.
Grace began to put more pressure on him, sending her farmworkers to measure and peg his land.
In the end, he was forced to withdraw his court application, and Grace got her way, adding one more property to Gushungo Holdings’ growing list of farms.
Commercial Farmers’ Union officials say Mugabe’s family owns even more farms. These include the 1000ha Foyle Farm, grabbed from Ian Webster.
It was renamed Gushungo Dairy and was recently involved in a dispute with Swiss company Nestlé over a milk deal.
The family also owns the 1046ha Iron Mask Farm, taken from John Matthews by Grace under the pretext of establishing an orphanage.
Judge Hlatshwayo is not the only black farmer who has lost out to the Mugabes.
Standard Bank CEO Washington Matsaire lost his 1200ha Gwebi Wood Farm to them.
The Mugabes also grabbed 1488ha Leverdale Farm from Piers Nicolle.
Mugabe’s personal farm, Highfield, in Norton, is 445ha.
Farmers in the area say all nearby farms were taken to create a ”security buffer zone” for the president, leaving him effectively controlling 4050ha.