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.***

Citrus farms lie idle as land grabbers give up

Citrus farms lie idle as land grabbers give up

Citrus farms that used to generate foreign currency for the country as well 
as providing oranges for local beverage companies are lying idle.
by Leona Mwayera

A survey conducted by this newspaper indicates that Zanu (PF) politicians 
who grabbed the most productive citrus farms in Chegutu from their 
commercial owners have deserted them after disposing of valuable equipment 
to other local farmers. Lionsvalle citrus farm (Big Orange), owned by Thomas 
Beattie before it was invaded by former deputy minister of Information and 
Publicity Bright Matonga is in a sorry state with orange trees dying from 
lack of attention. Most of the equipment grabbed by Matonga from Beattie is 
grounded, while some tractors are just heaped in a rusting workshop.

“Matonga has failed dismally – he is now producing lemons instead of 
oranges. The oranges he is producing are not even fit for human consumption, 
never mind for export because they are sour. The equipment he took over from 
our former boss is now a heap of scrap metal as you can see. A number of 
skilled workers with knowledge in citrus farming left due to non payment of 
wages and poor working conditions,” said Biggie Zulu, a former worker at 
Lionsvalle farm.

Former workers now languishing in poverty said it was a shame that such a 
productive farm, which used to supply fresh oranges to European and regional 
markets earning foreign currency had collapsed. Workers at the farm told 
this paper that Matonga rarely spend time on the farm and has lost interest 
in the citrus business.

Recently, a magistrate at Chegutu civil court ruled in favour of Beattie, 
ordering Matonga to return farm equipment he seized from the commercial 
farmer. The equipment includes ploughs, harrows and tractor grader. Matonga 
failed to attend court sessions for three consecutive times, forcing the 
courts to pass a verdict in his absence. The story is the same at Stockdale 
Estates, formerly owned by the Etheredge Family before it was grabbed by 
Senate President Edna Madzongwe`s son.

Sources said the Madzongwe abandoned the farm after selling the Equipment. 
He is said to have moved over 30 cattle to an unknown destination.

“The young man just destroyed the farm and rendered more people jobless. The 
inclusive government should conduct an audit to flush out such culprits 
because they are frustrating efforts by Finance minister Tendai Biti to turn 
around the shattered economy,” said a farm worker who declined to be named 
for fear of victimisation.

Hippovalle farm, which was grabbed by Zimpapers journalist Emilia Zindi, is 
also being underutilised. She and her two sons are accused of vandalising 
and selling farm equipment.


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