Inside Tapiwa Chipfupa’s lies

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MORE damning details emerged this week on the discredited film producer Tapiwa Chipfupa’s documentary The Bag on My Back – a film that shamelessly tries to demonise the Land Reform Programme as people continue to describe her story as a classic case of sour grapes.
In the documentary, Chipfupa claims that ARDA Endeavour Estate, a farm her father David Chipfupa used to manage, was ‘grabbed’ by President Robert Mugabe’s relatives and has been run down due to incompetence by the beneficiaries.
She also claims that the farm was a victim of the Land Reform and Resettlement Programme.
But investigations by The Patriot this week revealed that the farm in Mhangura was allocated to experts in the agricultural sector in 1997.
The investigations further revealed that the selection criteria included academic qualifications, past work experience in farming, capital, among others.
However, Tapiwa’s widely discredited production does not mention this as it focuses on her father’s ‘troubles’ after allegedly being sidelined from being one of the beneficiaries of Government’s distribution of the estate.
Equally alarming are her sensational claims that there is no production at the farm.
A visit by The Patriot to the renowned farm this week showed that there is massive production with beneficiaries of the redistribution exercise now supplying international markets.
They laughed off Tapiwa’s allegations of poor production and their ‘link’ to President Mugabe.
One of the beneficiaries and former chairperson of Endeavour Farmers Association, Edmore Mazambani, said production at the estate has been on the increase since its allocation to indigenous farmers in 1997.
Before its allocation to local farmers, Mazambani said, there was little activity.
But local farmers had boosted production and a tour of the farm by The Patriot crew buttressed his assertions.
Production levels stand at 95 percent.
“When we took over the estate from ARDA it was a mess, there was little or no production and most of the operations were down,” said Mazambani.
“However, due to hard work by the beneficiaries, production began to grow with every farmer utilising more than 90 percent of the arable land on all the farms.”
Contrary to Tapiwa Chipfupa’s claims, Mazambani said, the farm was not compulsorily acquired through the Land Reform and Resettlement Programme, but was allocated on the basis of merit to 10 farmers who passed the stringent application process under a five-year lease with an option of buying the land by the beneficiaries.
“We did not get the farms through the fast track Land Reform and Resettlement Programme, but the farm was bought by the government in 1989 to empower indigenous people to venture into agriculture through the Small-Scale Commercial Farmers’ Scheme,” he said.
“After the farm was bought from a white commercial farmer Ian Kluckow, it was put under ARDA to administer while the allocation process was being finalised.”
Mazambani said the allocation process was apolitical and based on merit which explains the beneficiaries’ ability to excel in production.
Tapiwa’s claims that beneficiaries are related to President Robert Mugabe, Mazambani said, were ‘malicious and scandalous lies that take pride of place in the league of the ridiculous,’ as no one was related to the President among the beneficiaries, but were professional agronomists committed to boost agricultural industry in the country.
“The allocation process was very transparent and left no room for politicians to manipulate as only professional agronomists were allowed to apply for the farms,” he said.
“The selection process of the beneficiaries involved four stages that included academic qualifications, relevant experience, capital and a proposed five-year plan for each and every applicant.
“More than 5 000 applicants had to be interviewed by four different panelists who were not affiliated to politics, who had to come up with 10 farmers.”
Tapiwa’s sentiments, Mazambani said, were ‘nothing, but a stinking and shameless’ protest for her father’s failure to benefit from the programme due to ‘well documented failure to run the ARDA estate’ as its manager.
“Tapiwa’s father was a failure at the estate and that disqualified him from benefitting,” he said.
“The fact that David Chipfupa was the past estate manager meant he had a bigger chance to be allocated a piece of land at the farm, but his poor performance record was his undoing.
“I believe it is because of this reason that Tapiwa is spreading malicious claims in a bid to discredit the successful empowerment programme for local farmers.”
Mazambani who owns 149 hectares of land has been realising positive yield since the time he acquired the farm producing an average of about 750 tonnes of commercial maize per year.
He has also been involved in the production of baby corn, paprika and potatoes, which is exported to countries such as Spain, Zambia, Mozambique and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Another beneficiary Berean Mukwende branded Tapiwa a liar who wanted to cover her father’s failures by demonising the country’s successful empowerment programmes.
He said indigenous beneficiaries have managed to improve the operations and production levels of the estate as compared to ARDA.
“When we were allocated farms at the estate, we increased the farming hectarage to at least 600 which is almost 95 percent land utilisation more than ARDA’s capacity utilisation,” said Mukwende.
“Most of the equipment at ARDA was dilapidated and we managed to resuscitate most of it such as the irrigation system to boost production.”
Mukwende said most of the farmers who benefited now have title deeds for their farms, dismissing Tapiwa’s claims that the estate was acquired through the Land Reform Programme.
“We have title deeds for our farms and we acquired the land way before the Land Reform Programme,” he said.
“Tapiwa is talking about issues that she does not know.
“We are some of the most productive farmers in the country and we will continue with our efforts to boost food security in the country.”
Some of the beneficiaries included agricultural graduates such as Farai Mamombe, Cliff Nyahondo, Clement Chimuti, David Tigere and John Mautsa the late husband of Tapiwa’s aunt among others.
So after all has been said and done, the question that remains is what is Tapiwa Chipfupa’s story all about?

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