ONE of President Robert Mugabe’s closest aides Ray Ndhlukula has finally chased Figtree farmer David Connolly out of his farm and taken over crops worth thousands of dollars.
Ndhlukula had been trying to move into Centenary Farm since June despite a High Court order barring him from interfering with operations at the property, one of the most productive in Matabeleland South. His workers started camping at Connolly’s farm in August after the eviction of farm workers from their dwellings.
A contempt of court case against Ndhlukula was filed at the High Court and is yet to be heard.
However, on Wednesday Connolly’s workers were stopped from growing their crops by Ndhlukula’s workers before the farm was barricaded.
“Connolly was chased out of his home. Barricades were put up to stop him coming back and irrigating or reaping the 300 000 onion plants he still has in the ground, or planting the 50 000 cabbage seedlings he has ready to plant this week,” Ben Freeth, spokesperson of the Sadc Tribunal Rights Watch said in a statement.
“There was no choice, but for him and his workers to go to the police station again.
“The police are there to uphold the law after all, but not it seems in Zimbabwe where the president’s racist pronouncements and policies reign unchallenged.”
Freeth said police refused to assist Connolly and his workers after they were kicked out of their homes.
“After the Connollys and their workers had sat at Figtree Police Station for eight hours, they were told by a deputy dommissioner in Harare that in effect, if Ndhlukula had an offer letter, he could do what he liked,” he said.
“The offer letter is yet to be produced, but the Connollys and their workers left the police station, deeply distressed, as so many thousands of farmers, farm workers and their families have before them, without being offered protection.”
Ndhlukula reportedly has two other farms in Matabeleland South, identified as Wilfred Hope Farm in Marula and Vlakfontein — otherwise known as Subdivision 2 of Marula Block.
“Connolly’s Centenary Farm is not the first that Ndhlukula has taken, despite the government’s widely stated ‘one man, one farm’ policy,” Freeth said.
“We know of at least two others: Centenary Farm is Dave Conolly’s only farm.”
Transport and Infrastructure Development minister Obert Mpofu on Wednesday described renewed farm invasions as the work of criminals saying Zanu PF had long done away with forcible land seizures.