30 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Zanu-PF Conference Centre Built On Stolen Land

ZANU PF's controversial US$6,5 million conference facility - dubbed the "Hall of Shame" - being built in Gweru ahead of the party's annual conference next week is reportedly being constructed on stolen farmland with the evicted owner set to take legal action.

Impeccable sources close to the developments said an indigenous farmer bought Bertram Winery farm after its previous white owner, who was the sole producer of Green Valley wine, moved to South Africa in 2000 at the height of the country's violent land seizures.

The sources say the current owner, who works at a financial services firm in Harare, entered into a viable partnership with another dispossessed white farmer so they could continue cultivating grapes.

They said the partners invested US$50 000 to refurbish the property and acquire farming implements in preparation for the agricultural season.

However, on March 13 this year the indigenous farmer's partner and his family were given 24 hours to vacate the farm after Zanu PF identified it as a site for the construction of its 5 000-seater conference centre.

Investigations by the Zimbabwe Independent revealed Zanu PF sent its youth militia to order the white family to vacate the land immediately or face the consequences. Zanu PF acting treasurer Didymus Mutasa could neither confirm nor deny the land grab, saying the party is not directly involved in the project, and referred questions to Midlands province.

The conference hall has been at the centre of controversy within Zanu PF with politburo hardliners opposing Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa's role in spearheading it because he allegedly harbours ambitions of succeeding President Robert Mugabe.

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