AgriculturePolitics

Kasukuwere fails to pay workers as looting at citrus farm continues

Kasukuwere’s employees, who refused to be named fearing victimisation, said their livelihoods were under threat, as their employer could not pay them salaries because he had lost part of the farm produce after the invasion.

VANDALISM, daylight looting and disregard for court orders by war veteran leaders continue at the Mazowe farm that was recently seized from former Zanu-PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, with at least 400 workers saying their livelihoods have been affected by the controversial farm takeover.

Ephanos Mudzimunyi, a Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association senior leader, took over exiled Kasukuwere’s Concopia Farm after he was given the nod by Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri early this year.

Mudzimunyi immediately started harvesting the main crop at the farm — oranges — but Kasukuwere’s workers said this was being done without watering or pruning the fruit trees that are already wilting.

They said this endangered the 4 166 orange trees that have not been watered, pruned or fumigated for more than a month due to lack of resources, farm equipment, as well as knowledge on plantation management.

The farm has 40 000 tonnes of high grade oranges, which could be lost in the next harvest cycle as there are gowing fears the endless disruptions at the Mazowe property could result in the destruction of 77 hectares of import quality citrus fruits.

“Those who invaded the farm do not have tractors or any farming equipment, but instead, are harvesting the citrus fruits, neglecting the other important aspects, which include watering, fumigation and pruning the trees,” an employee said.

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“This will mean the survival of these trees for the next season is in doubt.”

There are already fierce fights at the farm, pitting Kasukuwere’s workers and Mudzimunyi’s team, which has resulted in a case of vandalism of farm equipment being filed against the war veteran.

Last week, youths linked to Mudzimunyi allegedly punctured a tractor’s tyres after a dispute over the harvesting of oranges.

A report was filed at the police station under case number RRB 4304459 and police investigations are still underway.

Kasukuwere’s employees, who refused to be named fearing victimisation, said their livelihoods were under threat, as their employer could not pay them salaries because he had lost part of the farm produce after the invasion.

There are accusations that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is punishing Kasukuwere for his links with former president Robert Mugabe.

Farm workers said the farm had the capacity to produce 39 000 tonnes of oranges per season, with a 10kg packet fetching at least US$3.

The harvest is continuing regardless of the court order.

Mudzimunyi and his group have also taken over the pump station and horticultural gardens around the pump station, which used to support livelihoods of around 15 farm workers.

Workers said without electricity from Kasukuwere’s farm house, the pump house will be useless, as it will not be able to pump water from Mazowe Dam.

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Kasukuwere’s farm manager refused to comment, referring all questions to his boss.

The former Zanu PF commissar said despite following the laws of the country and obtaining court orders, which allow him to continue with operations undisturbed, his workers had been harassed, property looted and fruit trees destroyed.

“We have obtained the court order that allows us to operate without hindrance, but our operations continue to be hampered, property is being looted, while fruit trees are also destroyed, despite the massive investment we have made,” he said.

Kasukuwere fled Zimbabwe following Mugabe’s ouster in a military coup in November 2017.

Kasukuwere, together with the likes of former Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo and former Youth minister Patrick Zhuwao, who were part of the G40 faction in Zanu PF, were forced into exile.

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