Zim: Zanu-PF heavyweights, army 'caught in farm invasion' - report

Harare – Zimbabwe's military and several Zanu-PF heavyweights have reportedly "invaded" parts of a farm where one of the leading agricultural training institutes in southern Africa, Blackfordby College of Agriculture, is situated.

According to The Independent, the college had reportedly rented some of its land to a white farmer, Pip Madison, who was producing tobacco, maize, coconut and wheat, among other crops.

Some of the college land was also being used for practicals by students.  

"The college was simply told that the farm was going to be subdivided because it was too big for the school. They said the fact that a white farmer occupied part of the land showed that the land was too big for the school's business," an unnamed source was quoted as saying.

Blackfordby, which occupied 1 350 hectares in Mashonaland Central province and owned by Tetrad Investment Bank under provisional judicial management, was well known in the region for training agricultural experts.

Parts of the land was already occupied by some of Zanu-PF heavyweights and the military, the report said.

There were concerns that equipment worth thousands of dollars could be seized from the tertiary institution, the report said.

This came less than a week after President Robert Mugabe said that the last remaining white commercial farmers should be removed from their properties because most Zimbabweans were in need of land.

The nonagenarian said this recently while addressing thousands of his ruling Zanu-PF party supporters in the farming town of Marondera, about 80km east of the capital Harare.

"We told (former British premier) Tony Blair to keep his England and we keep our Zimbabwe because land is our heritage. We have discovered that in Mashonaland East province alone... there are 73 white commercial farmers who are still occupying some farms when our people do not have land," Mugabe said.

Thousands of white commercial farmers and their employees were displaced and left without sources of income during the fast-tracked agrarian reforms that were masterminded by Mugabe's administration in 2000.   

According to the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union, more than 4000 white farmers were affected by the often violent farm invasions.

Some of the white farmers that were kicked out of their properties during the agrarian reforms have now set base in neighbouring countries such as Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia. 

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