MASHONALAND WEST —
The Minister of State for Provincial Affairs for Mashonaland West Faber Chidarikire has been caught up in an alleged $5,000 bribery case involving a white commercial farmer, who is now in police custody over land issues and seed maize.
The white commercial farmer, Rolf Forrester, was arrested late Thursday afternoon on bribery charges in a case involving Chidarikire, who is the complainant.
Forrester’s lawyer Mike Mutsvairo says his client was picked up by the Chinhoyi Criminal Investigation Department on charges of trying to bribe the minister.
Mutsvairo says the state is alleging that Forrester tried to bribe Chidarikire with $5,500 for him to be left on Cambria Farm until he harvested his tobacco crop. He was given a notice by the Ministry of Lands to vacate the farm owned by an A2 black farmer.
Forrester is believed to have been renting the property owned by the unidentified local farmer. The Ministry of Agriculture’s Lands Committee is against the subletting of such pieces of land.
About 30 so-called A2 farmers in Mashonaland West allegedly sublet their pieces of land to Forrester in exchange of farming inputs amounting to over $4,000. Forrester is also said to have assisted the farmers in ploughing their land, leading to high crop yields in the past two agricultural seasons.
Indications are that a farmer identified as Musarurwa Chigavaira was allegedly used by Forrester to give Mr. Chidarikire $5,000 in two installments of $1,000 and $4,000 to block his eviction from the leased land.
Musarurwa was allegedly caught red-handed by the police trying to hand over part of the money to the minister. Chidarikire did not respond to calls on his mobile phone.
Forrester’s lawyer says his client is likely to appear in court tomorrow to face charges of corruption.
The Zanu-PF top-decision making body outside congress, the Politburo, has already threatened to evict beneficiaries of the country’s land reforms who are subletting land to displaced white commercial farmers.
More than half of Zimbabwe’s 4,000 white farmers lost their land when Zanu-PF spearheaded land invasions which started in 2000.