The Sunday Mail
Hundreds of farmers have lost huge sums of money in an alleged scam run by the Cattle Ownership Society, which promised to assist them to grow their herds.
This has prompted the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union to warn the public to be wary of “fly-by-night” scammers who have swindled farmers of an unverified amount of money.
On Monday, farmers besieged the Harare offices of the Cattle Ownership Society to demand their dues.
Contributors allege that the society misappropriated funds, resulting in it failing to avail cattle as promised.
Under the Cattle Ownership Society scheme, contributors pay anything between US$55 and US$100 monthly for 24 months. Contributors were promised at least 15 head of cattle if they do not default, but they say they never got a single beast out of the scheme.
Those who cancelled their membership are battling to get refunds of between US$700 and US$1 000 each.
Repeated efforts to get a comment from the Cattle Ownership Society were fruitless. The organisation asked for questions in writing on Wednesday, but late on Friday they were unclear as to when their responses would be ready.
Mr Berean Mukwende, the ZFU vice- president, warned: “There has been an increase in the number of people that are duping farmers through bogus cattle ownership schemes. As a farmers’ union, we have always told our farmers to deal with reputable organisations. Our calls are, however, falling on deaf ears.
“It appears as if every conmen bent on making a quick buck is now targeting the farmer. We have vultures out there waiting to pounce on desperate farmers. Some of the schemes are just too good to be true.”
The emergence of dubious cattle ownership schemes comes as Government tries to rebuild the depleted national herd.
It is estimated that more than 20 000 cattle succumbed to drought in the past two years alone, and as of last year, the national beef herd stood at 5,2 million and the dairy herd at 38 000.