Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

***The views expressed in the articles published on this website DO NOT necessarily express the views of the Commercial Farmers' Union.***

Black Farmer Falls On Hard Times

Black Farmer Falls On Hard Times

19 hours 45 minutes ago

HARARE, May 22, 2011- On the eve of the Southern African Development 
Community (SADC) extraordinary summit of heads of state in Namibia this 
weekend, a dispossessed black commercial farmer has been forced to sell 
packets of sugar to feed his family.

Luke Tembani, 74, one of the first black commercial farmers after Zimbabwean 
independence in 1980, lost the title to his farm in November 2000 when it 
was unilaterally auctioned by the Agricultural Bank of Zimbabwe (ABZ) to 
cover a loan.
Despite Tembani’s proposal to sell off a section of the farm to cover the 
debt, his entire property was sold to a third party at a fraction of its 
Tembani took his case to the High Court of Zimbabwe, which ruled in his 
favour, but the ABZ appealed to the Supreme Court – many of whose members 
have been recipients of “redistributed” farms – and in November 2007 the 
sale was upheld.
Tembani took his case to the SADC Tribunal in Windhoek, Namibia, where it 
was heard on June 5 2009.

He won the case and the Zimbabwe government was ordered not to evict him and 
to stop interfering with his use and occupation of the farm.
But in October 2009 Tembani and his family were evicted and prevented from 
taking any farm equipment. Now virtually destitute, they want justice.
Tembani’s first job in 1954 was as a gardener. He later enrolled at Chibero 
Agricultural College in Norton, becoming a farm manager on a dairy farm in 
the Nyazura district, where he worked for 18 years.

After independence, Tembani acquired a five-year lease on Minverwag, a 
1265-hectare property in Nyazura, with an option to buy. The farmer, Helgard 
Muller, gave him a free lease to help him get established.
The Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC), subsequently renamed the 
Agriculture Bank of Zimbabwe (ABF), provided a loan and in 1985 Tembani 
became the registered owner.
He served on the Rural District Council and the Indigenous Commercial 
Farmers’ Union.

Tembani built Minverwag up into a profitable enterprise, comprising 100ha of 
tobacco, 80ha of maize, 10ha of paprika and 40ha of wheat/soya rotation. He 
increased his beef herd to 600 animals and developed a pig unit and an 
ostrich project.
In 1986 Tembani decided to build a school and the following year opened 
Chimwanda Primary School, with free schooling for 321 pupils.
He also improved staff housing and built a church hall.

During the 1990s, when interest rates escalated sharply and there were 
serious national droughts, Tembani ran into financial difficulties. After 
meeting with the AFC, he arranged to sell off a viable 418ha of the farm as 
a subdivision in 1996.
The AFC agreed that this would cover his debt and buyers were found while 
they waited for the title deeds to be issued.
But the renamed ABZ reneged on the arrangement, auctioning the property in 
November 2000 for Z$6-million – even though an independent valuator valued 
the farm at Z$15-million.

“Only two buyers were present and the farm was sold to Takawira Zembe, a 
businessman who only paid 10% at the auction and who is believed to have as 
many as 18 farming enterprises in the country, gained in this way,” said 
After the eviction, Zembe refused to let his twins attend the school unless 
Tembani ceded total ownership of the farm to Zembe and withdrew his appeal 
against the eviction.

“Zembe is not operating Minverwag as a commercial farming enterprise but has 
cut it into plots for peasant farmers who are paying him for the use of the 
land,” Tembani said.
In April this year, Tembani joined commercial farmer Mike Campbell in 
signing papers to take the SADC heads of state to the tribunal for the 
But Tembani was denied access to the tribunal to claim damages against the 
Zimbabwean government for refusing to comply with his SADC judgment.
The family now live in basic rented accommodation and are without an income.

“As I speak to you, at the age of 74, I’m sitting on an old stool with 
nothing, despite all the years of hard work,” said Tembani. “We live 
hand-to-mouth selling little bags of sugar and other basics in a difficult 
and competitive environment, instead of contributing to food security.
“My wife and I want our farm back but right now it’s too political,” he said 
with regret.
-The Times


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