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    Sunday, 17 July 2016

    Mahofa defies Mugabe over Tongaat land


    - In a clear defiance of President Robert Mugabe, Minister of State for Masvingo Shuvai Mahofa has ordered farmers who grabbed Tongaat land not to move away from their plots in direct contradiction to the stance given by President Mugabe two weeks ago.
    Mahofa has ordered 213 farmers who benefitted from the opaque land resettlement programme where they got plots from 4 000 hectares of land owned by Tongaat Hullet to stay put. Mugabe told MPs from Masvingo two weeks ago that it was illegal for anyone to grab land from Tongaat as the company was protected under the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement. MPs and indeed many people from Masvingo are worried that the move by Mahofa and the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement Dr Douglas Mombeshora is going to see 2 000 workers losing their jobs and thousands of their children who are receiving free education being thrown out of school.
    Mugabe further said anyone who wants to become a sugarcane farmer must be supported by Government to clear acres and acres of virgin land left by former Vice President Joshua Nkomo in Chiredzi.
    However, Mahofa drove to Chiredzi last Friday where he addressed 60 of the supposed beneficiaries and told them to remain on their allocated plots.
    Mahofa claimed that she was sent by Mombeshora to tell them that they will continue occupying their fields as the President never reversed the program. She said those calling for the reversal of the program are being paid by Tongaat Hullet and said BIPPA only covers Tongaat sugar mills and not sugarcane fields. She also said Government will seize yet another section of the Tongaat land which will be occupied by eight 8 new farmers to make the beneficiaries 218.
    "As the Minister of State for Masvingo and Minister of Lands we are worried why legislators from Chiredzi are uniting with Tongaat Hullet to fight against land reform. Land belongs to the Government and Government gazettes all the land. The biggest word which I came to give you here is that no-one is going to move you away from the fields which I gave you. If you get an offer letter the field is yours.
    "Tongaat Hullet is not under BIPPA what is under BIPPA are the mills, BIPPA is found in Save Valley Conservancies so there is no talk from Government about that. The President never said land should not be taken and if he want to say so, he communicates through State announcements or call a responsible Minister like me or Minister of Lands but there is nothing to that regard," said Mahofa.
    Bikita South MP and Zanu PF Masvingo Provincial Commissar Jappy Jaboon said he does not know why she defied the resolutions of the State House meeting in which Mugabe clearly instructed that no field should be taken from Tongaat Hullet. He said Mugabe was clear when he told the meeting that Government policy is clear on properties under BIPPA and that Government should protect the only surviving industry which employs over 18000 people in Zimbabwe.
    "I cannot comment on Mahofa`s words but as one of the people who attended the State House meeting, the President said we should respect properties under BIPPA. He said that Government policy protects sugarcane plantations since it is the only surviving industry in Zimbabwe which employs over 18000 people. That was clear and everyone heard that so I don't know why the State Minister is going in the opposite direction," said Jaboon.
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