EXCLUSIVE: White farmer battles Mugabe's top aide in 'last minute' scramble for land

2017-03-11 07:17


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Harare - A white commercial farmer in Matabeleland South in southern Zimbabwe is battling to have President Robert Mugabe's top aide leave a prime property, in what critics view as a "last minute" scramble for land akin to the biblical "last supper". 

Ray Ndlukula, the deputy secretary for cabinet and president's office, has laid siege on the farm located in Figtree amid revelations in court documents that are in News24's possession that he has other properties in the province.

The tussle for the prime property, which at one time supplied the entire Matabeleland and midlands with vegetables and milk, is turning out to be a long drawn out and expensive fight.

David Connolloy says he has been to and from the courts but with little success to get Ndlukula off the property so he can do what he know best: farming. 

Centenary Farm has been in the Connolloy's family hands since time immemorial, locals and the farmer say. But is now under siege from the top civil servant.

Not even political persuasion by other war veterans sympathetic to Connolloy has dissuaded Mugabe's top aide from leaving the property.

'Invalid offer letter'

At one time, war veterans marched in solidarity and support of the white farmer known to have supported the locals even during the war of liberation, but this was in vain.

On his part, Ndhlukula says just like any ordinary Zimbabwean he is entitled to benefit from Mugabe's controversial land reforms, according to court documents perused by News24.

He denies charges he is using the president’s office to drive out the white farmer, pointing out that Connolloy is being treated like any other farmers with excess land. 

Ndhlukula has an offer letter to take over the property and has in fact moved his staff and other property on Centenary farm, about 60km from Bulawayo the second capital.

But Connolloy told News24 that the legal situation is that no component court has issued an eviction notice against him. The farmer believes the offer letter is fake and "a political piece of paper produced in some high office in Harare".

"In fact as time passes I believe there is less chance of this happening. As the facts become more apparent, no due process was followed in the issuing of the offer letter. So in short there is no eviction order and it seems he has an invalid offer letter," he said.

Last supper

Critics point out that more and more remaining white farmers are under seige as Zanu-PF "goes for the last supper", citing Mugabe's perceived twilight years and ahead of 2018.

Those surrounding Mugabe have been in the mood of 'men having their last supper' and this has been the case for the past decade or so, says Ricky Mukonza, a political analyst closely following Zimbabwean politics.

"They continue to grab whatever national resources that are left after over three decades of unmitigated looting. These people can see better than anyone else - because of their proximity to Mugabe - that the man is on his way out and they are doing everything they can to amass wealth that will cushion them when they get out of power. I predict that this group of people could be a major problem for a post-Mugabe non Zanu-PF government as they will do everything to protect their ill-gotten wealth."

Jacob Mafume, spokesperson for Progressive Democratic Party, puts it this way: "It is a case of getting what you can before the sun sets. It's no longer what they can for the country but what they can get," says Mafume. 

In the meantime, Connolloy prays sanity would prevail one day and the invader allows him back on the farm.

"We wait and see," he says with traces of tears in his eyes.

Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa  |  zimbabwe land reforms

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