Former Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara has sensationally claimed that all top Zanu PF officials have acquired title deeds to the farms they grabbed from white former farmers at the height of the land reform programme.
Mutambara made the claims in his latest book, titled “Ideas and Solutions: In Search of the Elusive Zimbabwean Dream.” The book was launched in Bulawayo on Friday.
In the book, Mutambara claims that former President Robert Mugabe had no faith in the land reform programme, and often insinuated that future generations could challenge the process.
“In my book, I also reveal some interesting information,” Mutambara said. “Mugabe did not have faith in the land reform programme. He said to me: ‘Mutambara, this land reform programme will be challenged by future generations.’
“‘Fifty years from now, they will be sitting and saying those guys in the year 2000 parcelled the land among themselves. We were not there, let’s reverse this thing.’ Now, if Mugabe was of that mindset, you know what he did, he does not have a 99-year lease, he bought these farms and he had title deeds,” Mutambara said.
Mutambara said most of Mugabe’s lieutenants in the system had title deeds, adding that the 99-year leases were for some war veterans and low-ranking army officers.
“Any minister, any judge, any commander of consequence is holding onto a title deed,” Mutambara said. “I will explain how it was done. You want to know how it was done during (former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon) Gono’s tenure, during the burning of cash.
“They would first chase away the farmer from the farm and the farmer will run away, go to Australia, go to New Zealand, go to Harare and live in a shack. They can’t pay fees for their children because they are desperate and they then follow the farmer six months later and ask ‘Mr Farmer, how much is your farm?'” Mutambara claimed.
He said if the farmer would say US$50 million, they would reject the amount and offer to pay about US$4 million and out of desperation, the white farmer would take the amount and release the title deeds to them and keep quiet.
He said the top officials were “burning money” during Gono’s time to raise money to pay the desperate farmers.
“So, these guys are safe under any regime because they are holding on to title deeds,” Mutambara claimed.
He also bemoaned the closing of democratic space in the country ahead of elections.
Speaking at the launch, Citizen Coalition for Change deputy spokesperson Gift Siziba said Mutambara’s book presented solutions to resolve the leadership question in Zimbabwe.
“This book is a reminder to us as young people that this country is not short of ideas, but is short of leadership,” Siziba said. “The greatest challenge that we face 43 years after independence is the deficit of stewardship and leadership, the ability to change the lives of ordinary people,” Siziba said.
The launch was chaired by former State Enterprises and Parastatals minister Gorden Moyo and was attended by former ministers Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, David Coltart, academics, local politicians and civil society representatives.
Mutambara’s claims are a serious allegation that could have far-reaching implications for Zimbabwe. If true, it would mean that the top officials in Zanu PF have benefited personally from the land reform programme, while the country’s economy has continued to decline.
The claims could also damage the reputation of Zanu PF ahead of the upcoming elections. The party is already facing criticism for its handling of the economy and the land reform programme.
Mutambara’s claims are likely to be met with denials from Zanu PF. However, the claims have already been met with support from some opposition parties.
The Citizen Coalition for Change, which is the main opposition party in Zimbabwe, has welcomed Mutambara’s claims. The party has said that the claims are a “reminder” of the need for change in Zimbabwe.
The claims are a serious development that could have a significant impact on Zimbabwe’s future. It remains to be seen whether the claims will be substantiated, but they have already raised serious questions about the government’s handling of the land reform programme.