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» »Unlabelled » Mwenezi white sugarcane farmers fear another land grab

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Cephas Shava

MWENEZI - White sugarcane farmers in Mpapa area, Ward 13 under Chief Chitanga are uncertain about their future after some individuals pitched-up on their plots and ordered them to leave, TellZim News has learnt.

The farmers convened a meeting last week where they expressed concern over threats made by the would-be land invaders before they disappeared.

"People came and pegged for themselves some portions of land on our plots claiming the land was now theirs. Some of them said we should move out completely. I have made considerable investment but with such threats I cannot make informed decisions.

"I was supposed to administer some chemicals and fertilisers on my sugarcane but I stopped because I am not certain about what the future holds," one of the farmers said.

TellZim News also learnt that a man only identified as Bishop as well as another unnamed politician were spearheading attempts to grab the land, with their sights also on one of the farm houses.

Although both white and black farmers who attended the meeting lauded the government's 'Zimbabwe is open for business' mantra, they criticised what they regarded as a preoccupation with Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) at the expense of local initiatives.

In a side interview, a committee member of Chipuwa-Mpapa sugarcane farmers, Francis Garirai said farmers in the area had invested a lot but their operations were bedevilled by many problems.

"We have many challenges here; our bridge needs to be fixed so that movement can be a lot easier and less expensive. We also need to get title to our land so that we can work it with full knowledge that we are secure.

"Farmers who own plots here are former Triangle employees so they got the land from the company as part of their packages.  We have been occupying the land since 1989 but without title deeds.

"So as farmers, we are requesting that we should at least be given 99-year leases like what is happening to some farmers elsewhere across the country," said Garirai.

Mpapa area, a section between the borders of Triangle and Mwenezi district, has a total of 17 sugarcane farmers. Of the 17 farmers, 13 are blacks while 4 are whites. Each farmer has an average sugarcane plot of 35 hectares.



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