We risk losing US$700K in potential revenue, Esidakeni farm owners tell govt

THE owners of Kershelmar farms in Nyamandlovu, Matabeleland North province risk losing over ZWL60 million (US$705 882) in potential revenue if government grabs the farm from them.

Siphosami Malunga, who is the son of late nationalist Sydney Malunga and Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) director, co-owns Kershelmar Farms with businessman Charles Moyo and Zephania Dlamini, a scientist working at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST).

In a state gazette, Lands minister Anxious Masuka said the farm known as Esidakeni measuring 553 hectares and situated in Nyamandlovu, Matabeleland North province is being compulsory acquired under section 72(2) of the country’s constitution, attracting widespread condemnation.

However, Malunga, Moyo and Dlamini in a letter to Masuka dated June 14 contesting the farm seizure reveal that they stand to lose over ZWL160 million in potential revenue from their horticultural plants.

“There are allegations that we are underutilising the farm which is 530 hectares. We would like to bring to your attention that only 85ha of this land is arable and irrigable. We have invested ZWL10million of borrowed funds from local banks (using our urban residential properties as collateral) to implement an intensive winter/summer horticultural program which involves utilisation of 55ha of the arable land,” the letter reads in part.

“This is supposed to yield gross returns of over ZWL60 million between now and April 2022. We cannot be said to be underutilizing the land.”

Reports show that CIO co-deputy director-general Gatsha Mzithulela, Zanu PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu and Provincial Affairs minister Richard Moyo are behind the move to seize the property.

Mazithulela is a former NUST pro-vice-chancellor (innovation and business development).

“We risk suffering irreparable loss from all this. We have invested over US$100 000 this year alone and have crops at different stages of maturity including 8 hectares of butternut and 6 hectares of tomatoes (150 000 plants) currently being planted,” the letter adds.

Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs minister has remained adamant that Malunga and his business associates did not own the farm, and recently told the media that the property should have been grabbed by the government long ago.

In its 18 December 2020 notice to acquire the farm, government admits it is owned by Kershelmar which, in turn, is controlled by Malunga, Dhlamini and Moyo.

This is contrary to the authorities claim that the three investors bought Keshelmar without the farm, when in fact the property is even officially referred in the government gazette to as Kershelmar Farms (Private) Limited.

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