Rhodesian prime minister Ian Smith’s farm in central Zimbabwe has finally been taken from his family by Robert Mugabe’s officials.
Mugabe’s lands ministry has given Gwenoro farm where Smith lived with his family for nearly 50 years to a “university” in central Zimbabwe.
It was on this farm about 225km south west of Harare that Smith’s ashes were scattered after his death in Cape Town five years ago.
His long-time farm manager, Owen Jarman, said on Thursday: “The two adjoining farms were taken about 10 years ago, but we all hoped this one, the small home farm, would survive. But it didn’t and we were told in September we must go and so that is what we are doing.”
Jarman managed the 1 600 hectare farm when Smith went to live in Harare after his wife, Janet, died in 1994. Smith left Zimbabwe after his only child, Alec, died in 2006 and went to live near his stepchildren in Cape Town.
Smith bought Gwenoro, which means “place of the kudu”, in 1948, the year he married and also won a parliamentary seat for the Rhodesia Front party, which claimed it would preserve white rule.
Jarman said he was packing up the farm, trying to sell off some of its moveable assets, such as about 500 cattle, and paying retrenchment packages to workers.
“There are about 10 workers who lived here and worked for Mr Smith for many years. His former gardener, Moroi Chata, has nowhere to go and is very old and frail and I am appealing to the authorities to provide him with a home.”
Smith declared independence from Britain in 1965, which led to a civil war that ended with a settlement at Lancaster House in London before the first non-racial elections in 1980, won by Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party.
Jarman said he had told Smith’s stepchildren, Robert and Jean, in Cape Town that the farm has been taken. “They were sad to hear this news,” he said, “but have not been back here since they scattered his ashes.”