CHAOS rocked the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) elective congress last week, leading to many expressing dissatisfaction at the processes that were used to choose the organisation’s leadership.
Outgoing CFU president Andrew Pascoe, who is vying for the same position, admitted this week that electoral procedures as outlined in the organisation’s constitution were not followed.
“There has been some misunderstanding when we had our elective congress last week but unfortunately, there were some constitutional provisions that weren’t met,” he said.
“So, we are clarifying that, making sure they are in line with the constitution.
“I think squabbles is not the right word and I think it was a misunderstanding of the provisions of the constitution and lack of clarity.
“So, we are just getting clarification on that and we move forward with the process.
“According to our constitution, there is a 21-day window to resolve and that’s where we are at now. We are seeking clarity from our legal advisers and it will be resolved. Few individuals were not happy but this is being clarified,” Pascoe added.
He said the director was ill and hence unavailable at the elective congress.
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“This is due to the fact that the constitutional provisions have not been followed in terms of how we hold our elections, so that was the misunderstanding because our director had been hospitalised so things were not followed because he was not available,” Pascoe said.
“Certainly, it’s a decision that takes a council to be resolved and not individuals.”
Sources in the organisation said the electioneering was heated, as the farmers jostled for the top positions.
“The move to hold an elective congress without following proper procedures triggered a vicious fight among the top leadership,” a source said.
“There is a problem at CFU where an unexpected challenge to Pascoe as president emerged at the recent elective congress. The fissures were evident as a group within CFU is strongly resisting Pascoe.”
The union represents thousands of commercial farmers and was home to white commercial farmers, who lost their farms during the land reform programme. Last year, there were reports that the CFU is deeply divided over the US$3,5 billion compensation deal, amid allegations that the union leadership could have been cajoled by the government into accepting payment outside the agreed timeline of five years.
The CFU leadership has also been accused of being ‘too weak’ to deal with the government.
The divisions, sources said came after the government gave the former farmers four months to decide on a 20-year bond that would see President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration paying US$70 million per year as compensation for assets expropriated during the fast-track land reform programme.
A decision is yet to be made by the CFU council on whether to rerun the election or confirm the leadership elected at last week's congress.