Cape Town – Zimbabwe's Affirmative Action Group (AAG) has moved to stop government from evicting at least 170 new farmers from a Triangle Ranch in Masvingo, a report says.
Reports last week said that the government had evicted the farmers just eight months after granting them the farmland.
The majority of those affected were diaspora returnees, widows and national heroes’ children.
The farm was reportedly owned by Tongaat Hulett before being given to the small scale farmers who were using at least 2 000 hectares to grow sugar cane with government support.
According to New Zimbabwe, some evictees believed the South African government had applied pressure on Harare during President Jacob Zuma's visit in November last year, to have them evicted.
In a letter to the minister, the AAG slammed the government’s move, saying: "Foreign direct investment is welcome in Zimbabwe and that will always remain in case but certainly not at the expense of local people."
The AAG demanded that the government stop evicting the new farmers as this was against the country’s "indigenisation and empowerment policies".
"Government’s responsibility must be to its own people… those acting on behalf of Tongaat Hulett are doing so in the interest of their own economy," the AAG said.
In a notice letter issued to the farmers, the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement Douglas Mombeshora maintained that the withdrawal of the offers had been made under the provisions of the land reform and resettlement programme.
"Following the notice to withdraw your offer letter and representation which you made to that effect, plse be advised that the minister… is withdrawing the land offer made to you in respect of subdivision," Mombeshora was quoted as saying at the time.
Mombeshora told the new farmers to leave the property "immediately" because "the purpose for the withdrawal outweighs the representations" made by the applicants.