Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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‘Sell-out’ minister may be next victim of skewed land policy

‘Sell-out’ minister may be next victim of skewed land policy

JASON MOYO Jul 15 2011

President Robert Mugabe’s use of farmland to stifle dissent among his 
followers has been laid bare by the threatened invasion of a farm owned by a 
senior member of his party, who is regarded as a moderate.

Tracy Mutinhiri is a Zanu-PF MP, deputy labour and social welfare minister 
and the ex-wife of a struggle stalwart.

Nine years ago, a mob led by her then husband Ambrose Mutinhiri, an ex-army 
brigadier, seized the property from tobacco farmer Gary Cartwright. Last 
weekend, a Zanu-PF mob arrived to drive her off it.

Members of her party have alleged that she is “too friendly” with Prime 
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and is co-operating with members of his Movement 
for Democratic Change (MDC), Zanu-PF’s coalition partner in government.

She is accused of voting with the MDC when Lovemore Moyo was elected as 
speaker of Parliament earlier this year. After that vote she told reporters 
that she had received death threats and she feared for her life.

Months earlier, while mourning the death of her brother, an MDC official who 
had been killed in a car crash, she thanked the MDC for helping with the 

Last week she accompanied Tsvangirai on a tour of poor districts in the east 
of the country.

Her rivals say all this is evidence that she has sold out to the opposition 
and they are now demanding that she be driven off the farm.

“When I came back from the tour I heard that there had been meetings to plan 
the invasion of my farm,” Mutinhiri said.

Dozens of Zanu-PF militants camped for two days at the gates to the farm, 
where they sang songs denouncing her and threatened to set fire to her 
tobacco barns and her maize crop. Armed police kept the militants at bay.

She denied the charge that she voted against her party.

“How do they know? It was a secret ballot.”

Mutinhiri said the invasion had been driven by Zanu-PF rivals who were after 
her parliamentary seat.

She has also angered party leaders by opposing the setting up of torture 
camps in her area and by co-operating with MDC councillors in development 

She has banned the use of party slogans at village meetings and has resisted 
pressure from her seniors to dole out money to Zanu-PF supporters from a 
state-funded constituency development fund.

A Zanu-PF leader in the district, Lawrence Katsiru, said a formal appeal had 
been sent to the party for Mutinhiri’s expulsion from Zanu-PF because “she 
is working more with the MDC than the party that voted for her”.

Katsiru criticised “her refusal to work with Zanu-PF people in the 
distribution of the fund”. He said “people are now wondering if she still 
belongs to Zanu-PF”.

Mutinhiri said she used her allocation from the fund to renovate a school 
and a clinic and to start a poultry project for locals.

She planned to meet senior party members this week and hoped her case could 
“be addressed in line with protocol”, she said.

Critics said she would probably discover party leaders to be cowed, afraid 
to be seen to be defending her. To do so would be to risk the wealth they 
themselves had accumulated under Mugabe’s extensive patronage system, which 
promises anything from farmland to lucrative government contracts in 
exchange for total loyalty.

They said that although even his closest lieutenants were beginning to join 
the growing murmuring over Mugabe’s future, they were unlikely to challenge 
him openly as it could mean losing the wealth they had gained under his 

Mugabe sold the land-reform exercise as a programme to benefit the landless 
poor. Although thousands of peasant families did benefit, the choicest farms 
were parcelled out to his top allies. In that way, he ensured that party 
officials would not speak out against his policies, lest they be driven off 
their farms.

Even after her ordeal Mutinhiri continued to make it clear that she was 
“very thankful” to Mugabe for “empowering” her with the farm. “No matter 
what happens, I will stay put. I am entitled to this farm.”

Mugabe and his politburo will decide Mutinhiri’s fate on Friday. He is 
likely to make an example of her and strike a blow for his radical loyalists 
against party moderates.


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