The Amazing Story Of Five SA-Based Zimbabwean Farmers Who Impressed Former President Thabo Mbeki

The Amazing Story Of Five SA-Based Zimbabwean Farmers Who Impressed Former President Thabo Mbeki

When they came to South Africa, these five Zimbabwean men never imagined that they would be prominent, award-winning farmers.

Their agricultural prowess has reached far and wide, and former President Thabo Mbeki heaped praise for their rare success story.

Academics Albert Zinhanga, Batsirai Magunje, Walter Khumalo, Masimba Paradza and Dr Ignatious Matimati ventured into agriculture accidentally, despite having fledging careers in other fields.

Magunje is a physicist and material science engineer, Zinhanga is a teacher of African languages, Khumalo is an engineer, Paradza has a doctorate in Agriculture while Matimati has a degree in science.

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According to an account by GroundUp, the five were driving in the Western Cape, looking for a cow to buy so they could slaughter and share.

Five SA-Based Zimbabwean Farmers
The Story Of Five SA-Based Zimbabwean Farmers Who Impressed Former President Thabo Mbeki [Image: Africa News]

They then came across the plot of land in Malmesbury and engaged the owners, Koos Hoffman and Marie Combrinck.

“We never dreamt or even thought that one day we would be farmers. We were just a group of academics driving around buying farm products.”

The white owners of the farm had been growing lupins for animal feed on the land. At the time the Zimbabwean academics approached them, the lupins had been cleared as it was a winter crop.

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The farm owners then gave the academics part of the land to farm free of charge for a year and also offered their equipment. All they had to pay for was the electricity they used.

Hoffman and Combrinck told the five that they would start paying rent after a year.

Five SA-Based Zimbabwean Farmers
The Story Of Five SA-Based Zimbabwean Farmers Who Impressed Former President Thabo Mbeki [Image: GroundUp]

In a short time, the “migrant farmers” started farming crops which include maize, tomatoes, leaf vegetable, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower and other vegetables.

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The Zimbabweans’ enterprise flourished so much that they were announced winners in the small business of the year award at the Zimbabwe Excellence Gala Dinner Awards Ceremony in 2016.

Former President Thabo Mbeki praised the men’s determination and exploits:

It’s Zimbabweans. It’s not any South African that went to the farmer and said can I use your farm. But the Zimbabweans did. Because Zimbabweans have got a very different attitude to land.

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