A GROUP of white commercial farmers in Matabeleland South province have petitioned President Robert Mugabe to stop his aide, Ray Ndhlukula from invading Centenary Farm, saying rare breeds of cattle were at risk of extinction due to the on-going farm wrangle.
by XOLISANI NCUBE
The farm is owned by David Conolly, a renowned Hereford and Senepol cattle breeder.
In the petition, the white farmers, represented by Ben Freeth – the spokesperson for Sadc Tribunal Rights Watch – said cattle breeds were likely to go extinct following the invasion of the property by Ndhlukula, who is deputy chief secretary to the President and Cabinet.
“If the herds are slaughtered, all of their genetics – their irreplaceable gene pool – will be destroyed because Ndhlukula is refusing to obey the law,” read part of the petition.
Conolly said he had moved the two breeds from Centenary Farm in Figtree to Boxwell Farm in the same area, but due to lack of water, their existence was under threat.
Ndhlukula and Conolly have been fighting over the property in the courts for over three years and this has reportedly disrupted production at the farm, while putting the two prestigious breeds at the risk of extinction.
“It has taken more than 80 years to breed this pedigree herd of Hereford cattle – suitable for Zimbabwe’s very specific conditions – and since the farm invasion, the loss of invaluable breeding stock has been catastrophic,” wrote the group, which represents the interests of the farmers.
Ndhlukula yesterday declined to comment on the matter, saying the matter was subjudice.
“There is a court process underway so I will not say anything on that issue. Whatever Conolly says, I will not respond to anything,” he said.
Yesterday Conolly said he was now left with no option but to slaughter the beasts due to shortage of water and grazing land.
“Despite the court orders in our favour, we are still not allowed on the farm and this has exposed our animals to untold suffering,” he said.
“The farm where we are keeping them does not have enough water as opposed to our farm, which has plenty of water and enough pasture.
“It seems that the desired outcome of the fast track land nationalisation programme – which is apparently the cessation of all production and the destruction of formal employment on commercial farms across the country – has been achieved at Centenary Farm,” Conolly added.