HOME Affairs minister and Zanu-PF administration secretary, Obert Mpofu, faces eviction from his rented plots at Umguza Farm after Parliament ordered the property owner – Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) – to scout for a new investor who would make the farm productive.
This follows a visit to different Arda farms last year by the Paurina Mpariwa-led Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, where it was discovered that Mpofu was underutilising the property.
“The committee was informed that two plots, each measuring 34 hectares, were being leased to Mpofu and that there was no production,” the PAC report read.
“As a result of lack of production, a process to part ways with the partner was underway, and the process involved determining the value of improvements on the plots before settling this against a debt of $36 000 which the partner owed to Arda in unpaid fees,” the committee noted.
The MPs said they found disused equipment such as tractors and centre pivots lying idle on the uncultivated fields.
“Arda should monitor activities at its leased plots to ensure maximum productivity. The authority should expedite the process of identifying another partner for the Umguza plots. Progress on this issue should be reported to Parliament by end of August 2018,” the report said.
While some farms leased to different investors by Arda were said to be operating well, the PAC noted that the challenges being experienced by most Arda farms were due to the lease agreements.
“The PAC notes that some of the estates were highly productive prior to the takeover by Arda, for example, Nijo was famous for onion production, while Balu used to be one of the biggest pig and dairy producers, having the advantage irrigation facility due to its vicinity to a dam.
“The committee noted that Doreen’s Pride Estates in Kadoma has a potential for massive irrigation projects since it sits on the banks of Claw Dam, which has unlimited water supply,” the report said.
But the committee said they noted with concern that about one-third of Doreen’s Pride, which Arda is leasing to Trek Petroleum, was occupied by illegal gold panners, who were not paying anything to Arda for land utilisation.
At one of Arda’s estates, Sisi Estate in Rafingora, the army was said to be involved.