Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party activists reportedly invaded a white-owned commercial dairy farm just outside Chinhoyi town on Wednesday, as land seizures spread across the country ahead of next year's general elections.
Mugabe, who was seeking re-election in polls due in 2018, urged his supporters in June to grab all the few remaining white-owned commercial farms in the countryside to pave way for Zimbabweans who did not have access to land.
Following the 93 year-old leader's directive, a new wave of invasions was reported in most parts of the country, including the grabbing of southern Africa's largest agricultural research institutes, Blackfordy Estates, located just outside the capital Harare.
The latest invasion of Gyppsland Dairy Farm, located just outside the farming town of Chinhoyi in Mashonaland West Province, about 170km west of the capital Harare, has reportedly disturbed dairy production at the property - at a time when the southern African country was facing an acute shortage of milk.
'We are dividing this land into equal pieces'
Displaced farmer, Gary Hensman, said Zanu-PF youths who grabbed the 320 hectare farm had already started sharing the property among themselves.
"More than 50 Zanu-PF youths have taken the property and they are allocating themselves plots," said Hensman. "This farm was strategically spared by the government during the land reforms because it is a dairy farm; it is really regrettable that the youths have seen it fit to grab the farm at a time when we were trying to increase our herd so that we improve dairy supplies in the country. My dairy cows are still in the farm and I do not know what is going happen to them."
When News24 arrived at the farm on Thursday, the youths, some of them clad in Zanu-PF regalia bearing Mugabe's face, were erecting shacks on the property.
"We are more than 50 people here and we are dividing this land into equal pieces so that every one of us has somewhere to stay and grow crops. This land is too big for one white man," said one of the youths who only identified himself as Comrade Admire.
Another youth holding a hoe and pick as he was clearing the land to build a housing structure said their actions were in sync with Mugabe's directive.
Chaotic land reforms
"The president comes from here (Mashonaland West Province) and he has told us to take the land because we do not have land. The land belongs to us black people; why are you asking me all those questions, why are you sympathising with the white man who grabbed our forefathers' land?" said the visibly angry unidentified youth charging towards this reporter.
Meanwhile, an official in the Lands ministry in Chinhoyi said Hensman's farm was earmarked for downsizing.
"We had plans to allocate part of the farm to some people who need land but now that the youths are there already I do not know what is going to happen," said the official who referred further questions to Lands Minister Douglas Mombeshora who was not answering his mobile phone.
Some economists blamed Zimbabwe's economic downturn on chaotic land reforms embarked on by the Mugabe administration in 2000 that displaced more than four thousand white commercial farmers and their employees.
All the displaced were not compensated for their land and developments on their properties. The displaced farmers were now dragging Mugabe and his government to the Southern African Development Community for compensation under the regional bloc's Finance and Investment Protocol.