Government has launched a probe into former president, Robert Mugabe’s multiple ownership of 14 farms totalling 16,000 hectares, according to local reports.
Quoting anonymous sources, the reports say new Lands and Agriculture minister, Perrance Shiri, ordered the probe.
Shiri, an ex-general who headed the Airforce of Zimbabwe before a military intervention that toppled Mugabe in November 2016, announced that multiple farm owners must surrender excess land.
He has also indicated that government will carry out a long-postponed land audit to making farming economically viable once again.
In 2000, ex-president Mugabe’s government launched an accelerated land repossession programme that drove out around 6,000 commercial white farmers to make way for landless blacks, but most of the prime land is reported to have been grabbed by the elite.
Mugabe repeatedly condemned multiple farm ownership which violated the one-family-one-farm principle adopted under the fast track land redistribution programme but failed to take action against known violators.
All the 14 Mugabe farms that are alleged to be the subject of the land probe were acquired during and after the fast track land reform programme.
Most of the farmland that the former first family possesses is in the rich Mashonaland Central province.
Provincial minister for Mashonaland Central, Martin Dinha, is said to have described the alleged land probe as “too sensitive” and declined to comment further.
The vast land estate owned by the Mugabe family includes Gushungo Estates (4 046 hectares), Gushungo Dairies (1 000 hectares), Iron Mask Estate (1 046 hectares), Sigaru Farm (873 hectares), Gwebi Wood (1 200 hectares) and Gwina Farm (1445 hectares) all in Mazowe in Mashonaland Central.
Outside the rich soil Mazowe district that was dominated by white land holding prior to the fast track land reform programme, the Mugabes also own Leverdale Farm (1 488 hectares) and Highfield Farm (445 hectares) in Banket, Mashonaland West province, where Mugabe’s rural home is located.
The Mugabe family owns Cressydale Estate (676 hectares), Tankatara Farm (575 hectares), John O’Groat Farm (760 hectares), Clifford Farm (1 050 hectares) and Bassiville (1 200 hectares) in Norton which is also located in Mashonaland West.
Grace Mugabe was also gunning to take over Manzou Farm in Mazowe where she intended to build a university and a hospital in honour of her husband, who turns 94 next month and was toppled through a military intervention that replaced him with his former deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The Mugabes were recently outed for having leased another farm, Mazowe Citrus Estate that they grabbed from Interfresh Holdings in 2013, to businessman Hamish Rudland.