Didymus Mutasa orders villagers to defy court order

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Didymus Mutasa, a powerful figure in President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF political party has instructed villagers occupying a tea and coffee estate in Chipinge to disregard a court ruling ordering them to vacate the property.
Mutasa, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Zanu PF secretary for administration, has justified his actions saying he was doing so to “protect the poor”.
He said Zimbabwe had a law that did not allow land cases to be solved by the courts.
Mutasa told the villagers in Chipinge at the weekend that they should not leave Makandi Tea and Coffee Estates, owned by Brendon James Scott despite the court ruling ordering them to do so.
Scott yesterday refused to comment saying his problems mounted each time he spoke to the press.
Two months ago the Chipinge Magistrates’ Court ordered that 300 villagers including nine village heads and some councillors from the town should vacate the estate because it was not gazetted for resettlement under the controversial land reform programme. Scott’s lawyer, Tinoziva Bere yesterday told NewsDay the courts had ruled in his client’s favour but complained that the police were not being cooperative in enforcing the court order.
“There was a ruling in favour of our client but unfortunately there is no assistance from the police to enforce that court order,” Bere said in an interview. “There is disrespect for the court. They only respect the court when they want to fix opponents or when they want to grab property,” he said.
But Mutasa, accompanied by Mike Madiro, Zanu PF chairman in Manicaland province and MP for Chipinge Central Alice Chitima, told villagers no one should move out of Makandi Estate as ordered by the courts.
Madiro added his voice saying Zanu PF would not tolerate “unscrupulous elements bent on reversing the land reform programme”.
Last night a defiant Mutasa justified his actions saying: “The court order should not have been given.
“In fact there is a law that says land issues cannot be referred to court. You can verify. I do not think the removal of these people settled at Makandi is legitimate because they have offer letters.”
He added: “I did that to protect the poor.
“In fact in my statement I said I want to protect poor people who are settled at Makandi.”
Mutasa said lawyers representing the white commercial farmer were not “sensitive” to the plight of the poor people settled at Makandi because they were being given money by rich people.
In his court application Scott challenged the continued occupation of the estate by the villagers saying it was not sanctioned by the government since Makandi Tea and Coffee Estates were not acquired for resettlement.