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The ZANU-PF leadership here has unanimously recommended the acquisition of 29 000 hectares of sugar cane plantations under the control of sugar producer Tongaat Hulett in the Lowveld to resettle thousands of landless people.

Masvingo has more than 10 000 people on the waiting list, amid revelations by senior officials that the province had run out of land.

However, the ZANU-PF leadership in the province at the weekend said Government was supposed to acquire Tongaat Hulett cane plantations and resettle land hungry people.

Over 1 000 delegates attending the ZANU-PF inter-district conference ahead of the forthcoming National People’s Congress, last Saturday overwhelmingly endorsed plans to push for the acquisition of the sugar cane estates so that Tongaat Hulett specialises in cane milling.

Cde Pupurai Togarepi, of Zilwaco, said the acquisition of the cane plantations was top among.

“After our National People’s Congress, we will work round the clock to make sure that Government acquires all the 29 000 hectares of cane fields that are currently under Tongaat Hulett in the Lowveld. Our landless people should be allocated sugar cane plots in the plantations so that Tongaat Hulett concentrates on milling,” he said.

“We want the company’s monopoly in sugar cane production to be broken with our landless people becoming out-growers who will produce the sugar cane. We want more and more of our people to be empowered. It is our hope that Government will accept our recommendation,” added Cde Togarepi.

Former Masvingo Governor Cde Titus Maluleke said the acquisition of the cane plantations would ease land hunger in Masvingo province and result in large-scale empowerment of indigenous Zimbabweans.

He said there was need to increase the number of indigenous sugar cane farmers in the Lowveld by giving more landless people plots.

“We currently have slightly less than 1 000 indigenous A2 sugar cane farmers in the Lowveld and we feel the number should go further up.

President Mugabe and the ZANU-PF Government have a well-known track record of empowering ordinary Zimbabweans and the people of Masvingo are optimistic that the highest office in the land will give the green light to the takeover of the cane fields,” said Cde Maluleke.

Politburo member Cde Josaya Hungwe said Tongaat Hulett should conform to the country’s indigenisation and empowerment laws and attacked some senior ZANU-PF officials who were shielding the sugar cane producer in return for kickbacks to line their own pockets at the expense of the majority.

Cde Hungwe said sugar cane farming had the potential to transform the lives of thousands of people in southern parts of Masvingo with the scope for irrigation poised to be expanded with the coming on board of the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam in Chivi.

He, however, said Government and Tongaat Huletts were also supposed to first bring finality to the contentious issue of about 130 prospective A2 sugar cane farmers who were still to be shown their plots at Hippo Valley and Triangle Estates, two years after they were issued with offer letters.

Tongaat Huletts made an undertaking to clear 4 000 hectares for the beneficiaries and asked Government to issue them offer letters in December 2012.

However, up to now the company has not yet fulfilled its undertaking.

Government has already indicated that it wanted to first draw up a policy on the acquisition of plantations for resettlement before acquiring estates such as those under sugar to resettle those in need of land.

Source : The Herald