Prominent Beitbridge citrus farmer and philanthropist, Ian Ferguson, has died. His son Ian Ferguson (Jr) said his father died at home in Bulawayo at the weekend.
“He was at home and he passed on on Saturday,” Ferguson (Jr) said.
His lawyer Winston Tshakalisa said Ferguson died after a long battle with chest-related problems.
“He was having those problems and was bed-ridden from September last year,” Tshakalisa said.
The late Ferguson’s history is easily one of Beitbridge’s most successful farming tales.
Apart from his thriving personal ventures, Ferguson and the late Sam Cawood are credited with having been the first whites to establish irrigation schemes in rural Beitbridge during the time they worked for the Rhodesian government.
The irrigation schemes are functional to date and have of late been boosted through a collective approach by a consortium of non-governmental organisations who have introduced contract farming.
While Cawood chose cattle, Ferguson opted for citrus and wildlife conservancy, which alongside livestock farming are Beitbridge’s mainstay.
He settled some 50 kilometres west of Beitbridge town from where he established his farming business.
In the last years of his life, however, Ferguson was in and out of courts after the Department of Lands at Beitbridge parcelled out his wildlife sanctuary to new farmers under controversial circumstances.
Ferguson, who is the grandfather of world rugby star David Pockock based in Australia, travelled many times between Beitbridge and Harare battling to save his property after it was invaded in 2013.
At one time he is said to have approached then Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa to save his property at the same time blaming then State Security minister Kembo Mohadi for his misfortune.
A senior army officer Colonel Darlington Muleya is one of the beneficiaries of pieces of land from Ferguson’s property.
Ferguson then resorted to the courts for justice granted, but never effected.
Despite winning several court orders against the takeover of his pristine Mananje Conservancy, Ferguson could have died a bitter man after the court orders were defied and settlers remained put despite existing government statutes against resettlement in conservancies, wildlife sanctuaries and national parks.
The once wild-life-rich farm has become a haven for poachers and a teacher at nearby Jompempi Primary School said apart from wildlife killed daily, indiscriminate cutting down of trees for firewood is rife.
Ferguson (Jr) said a memorial service for his father will be held Bulawayo on Friday.
Farmer and businessperson Elias Chibi said Ferguson, known fondly as vhoMorena, will be remembered for his community work.
“He worked hard, for communities and the nation,” Chibi said.
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