Home Affairs minister Obert Mpofu has been accused by parliamentarians of neglecting a 94-year-old farm employee who is said to be taking care of an Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) estate that the minister is said to have run down.
Outgoing Mabvuku-Tafara MP James Maridadi raised the issue during a debate on Parliament’s public accounts committee (PAC) report on Arda in the National Assembly last week.
The report presented by PAC chairperson Paurina Mpariwa revealed that most Arda estates were under-utilised.
Maridadi seconded the motion and claimed that during a visit to the Arda estate run by Mpofu, they discovered that the government property was run down and the minister’s employee was being neglected.
“Mpofu is one of the individuals in ownership of one of Arda’s estates, and we went to visit the estate as a committee. “but I tell you if we were to show you the pictures of that estate, every one of you will be angry,” he said.
“The person who was said to be taking care of the estate is an old man around the age of 90 years [and] of foreign descent, and he told MPs that he was a security guard at the farm.”
Maridadi said the man looked very frail and ill, adding that it was evident that he needed urgent medical attention.
“I will not even be surprised if one day that old man is found dead, and what Mpofu is doing to him is gross violation of human rights — and for it to be done by a minister in government is immoral, inhumane and despicable,” he said.
Maridadi produced pictures of the man in Parliament.
“The old man cried and said he had not been paid for months, and it was evident to us that even if Mpofu were to give the guard $50, it would go a long way and would make him happy,” he said.
“It is sad that Mpofu is a man of means, but the house where the guard lives is fit for a dog, the blankets were not washed and there was a strong stench coming from the house.
“I would urge the Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda to send a delegation so that the old man can be assisted.
“If President Emmerson Mnangagwa were to see this old man, Mpofu would be out of his job.”
Arda runs about 28 estates measuring about 500 000 hectares.
At its peak in the 1980s, Arda contributed 45% of the country’s food requirements, but now almost all of its estates are non-performing.