Posted on November 7, 2009 | Category: Politics; Business, Sport
CHIREDZI – Digby Nesbit, a Chiredzi commercial farmer and businessman, was
on Wednesday ordered to leave his farm by November 22 after he was convicted
of failing to vacate his Crocodile Farm.
The farm was acquired by the government for resettlement.
The farmer was also ordered to pay a fine of US$200 or serve 10 days in
prison for the same offence.
In a 150-page judgement, magistrate Enias Magate also advised Nesbit to
remove his 8 000 crocodiles from the property by February 15.
Magate, who is a beneficiary of President Robert Mugabe’s controversial land
reform programme, said that the law was very clear on government acquired
properties. He said that once a farm has been acquired by government the
owner should leave the property to pave the way for the new beneficiaries.
Nesbit was popular for assisting the local community of Chiredzi, prompting
senior Zanu-PF officials, including politburo members, to strongly oppose
During the three-month long trial, Zanu-PF members openly told the court
that they were against the farmers’ eviction adding that as political
leaders they had agreed that productive farmers such as Nesbit should be
spared from eviction.
One of the witnesses, Selina Pote, a Zanu-PF politburo member, told the
court that she was shocked to hear that anyone would want to evict Nesbit.
“We agreed as political leaders that productive white farmers like Nesbit
should stay put because they are of benefit to the nation”, Pote told the
court during trial.
Other Zanu-PF members who also testified in support of Nesbit are former
governor Willard Chiwewe, and politburo member Dzikamai Mavhaire.
Nesbit told the court during trial that he would only move out of the farm
if he was paid compensation to the tune of US$20 million for the
developments he made on the property.
Crocodile Farm specializes in sugar cane production in addition to a
thriving crocodile project from which it derives its name.
The state, led by Tawanda Zvekare, argued that Nesbit had no legal right to
remain on an acquired piece of land, hence he should be evicted.
The state further argued that if Nesbit was allowed to remain the whole land
reform programme would become chaotic as other farmers would also want to
retain their properties.
Nesbit, who was represented by Rodney Makausi of Chihambakwe and Makonese
legal practitioners, did not appeal against both conviction and sentence.
Nesbit joins several commercial farmers who were pushed off their land by
government under a controversial land acquisition programme.
Nesbit will give way to the officer commanding Matebeleland North Province,
senior assistant commissioner Edmore Veterai who invaded the property
despite being advised by Zanu-PF leaders in Masvingo not to do so.
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