TWO Chiredzi farmers are on the verge of losing their thriving intensive crocodile farming venture in a fresh land grab spree in the Lowveld even after they incorporated locals.
The disturbances are threatening the future of more than 60 workers and the 17 000 reptiles at the farm.
Brothers Jeffrey and Henry Sommer are on the verge of losing their 71-hectare farm after an unnamed government official reportedly produced an offer letter for the land.
The Sommer brothers’ farm manager Wilson Gondo said 100 hectares of their farm had already been gazetted by the government.
The brothers incorporated Ethan Dube and Stanford Gwanzura into their crocodile farming venture trading as Chiredzi Wildlife Investments.
Speaking during a tour of the farm last Friday, Gondo said officials from the Lands ministry in Chiredzi had called advising him that a new owner would be taking over the farm after getting an offer letter.
“The fight is still on. Yesterday (Sunday), I was called by officials from the Lands ministry advising me that an unnamed local will be coming to take over the whole farm,” Gondo said.
He said this was despite the fact that farmers had already lost 100 hectares of the farm and were only left with 71 hectares.
Gondo said the company exports almost 5 000 crocodile skins per year to Singapore and sells others locally.
Lands minister Douglas Mombeshora professed ignorance over the invasion and referred all questions to Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti.
Bhasikiti said he had not yet been briefed about the incident, but took a swipe at the new farm grabs.
“I do not know about it, but all I can say is that people should not go onto land when they do not have offer letters,” said Bhasikiti.
It, however, remains to be seen if the new owner would sustain the capital intensive venture given that the 17 000 reptiles need meals that cost around $40 000 per month.
The meals are imported from South Africa.