AFRICANGLOBE – The manager of a ranch owned by Zimbabwe’s last White ruler says he has been ordered by President Robert Mugabe’s government to quit the property to allow it to be occupied by a state institution.
Gwenhoro, where Smith was born, has been handed over to the government-owned Midlands State University by President, Robert Mugabe’s government.
Several months ago the farm was listed in the government gazette as among properties to be appropriated. Since Ian Smith’s death, it has been under the control of its manager, Owen Jarman, who gave regular reports to Smith’s surviving children, who live in Cape Town, South Africa.
“We’ve received our eviction notice and it has been made clear that the Midlands State University will take over from us. There is nothing else we can do, but to plead with the university on when we should vacate,” said Jarman.
According to Zimbabwean law, anyone who resists eviction on targeted farms faces up to two years in prison. No one has been compensated for losing the stolen land to the state that they were in possession of. Gwenhoro has 500 head of cattle, a high-production poultry project and a citrus plantation.
At the height of the land redistribution program, Ian Smith’s farm was targeted, but President Mugabe intervened to allow the former White ruler to spend the rest of his life on the property. Ian Smith became prime minister of Rhodesia in 1964 and quickly cut ties with Britain through his government’s unilateral declaration of independence, resulting in UN sanctions being applied.