A Zimbabwean cleric, Trevor Manhanga, who was recently given a directive by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to vacate the farm he grabbed from a white farmer, Robert Smart, in Rusape in June, has remained adamant he will “stay put”.
Smart was evicted from his farm in Rusape, Manicaland province in June after heavily armed Zimbabwean riot police besieged his property and forcefully pushed him out to make way for Manhanga, who had links with the then president Robert Mugabe
The grabbing of Smart’s Lesbury Farm came shortly after Mugabe told his supporters at a rally that all remaining white commercial farmers were supposed to be kicked off their properties to make way for the ruling Zanu-PF party’s youth and his supporters who had no land.
But Mnangagwa’s government on Tuesday last week gave a directive that Smart and his son Darryn should go back to their farm and resume production.
President Mnangagwa’s special adviser Chris Mutswangwa said that Smart and his son should not be disturbed in their farming activities.
“These farmers are Zimbabweans and they belong to Manicaland province,” Mutswangwa was quoted as saying, adding that the country now needed direct investments to boost the economy.
Manhanga, however, claimed that his occupation of the farm was above board and legitimate, according to NewsDay.
“I did not invade, occupy or grab any farm or portion thereof. I am in legal and lawful possession of an offer issued on March 15 to a piece of land measuring 100 hectares of Lesbury Estate in Makoni.
“]There are at least two people known to me who have offer letters of portions of Lesbury Estates, namely the current Chief Tandi (Mr William Samhungu) and David Nyakonda,” Manhanga was quoted as saying.
Manhanga said that he remained the legal owner of the farm despite a President Mnangagwa directive instructing the previous owner Smart to return to the farm.