Mujuru loses farm


Powerful Zanu PF politiburo member retired army General Solomon Mujuru (pictured) has been kicked off a farm in Nyanga after a business partner clandestinely obtained an offer letter from government and mobilised war veterans to assist him seize the property.
Mujuru is now battling to wrest control of the property from Edward Buwu at the High Court in Harare. This is a test case for the state as government has categorically stated that cases to do with the land cannot be dealt with in court. Hundreds of white farmers have lost properties to new farmers with offer letters despite court orders barring new occupiers from taking the land.
Mujuru and businessman Edward Mashingaidze, through their company Snaptop, partnered with Buwu, Anthony Swire Thompson and a consortium of other businessmen to invest in Lot 75, Inyanga Downs Farm in 2003.
The directors of the company are chairman Daniel Garwe, Buwu, Mujuru, Swire-Thompson and Mashingaidze. In 2003 the black businessmen invested in a project owned by Swire-Thompson as part of the farmers’ skills transfer to black farmers. The new consortium ceded 400 hectares to government for resettlement while retaining 265 hectares for a horticulture project.
Buwu has now obtained an offer letter for the 265 hectares, effectively kicking out the other shareholders. Garwe last week deposed an affidavit in a chamber application at the High Court, challenging the move.
However last month, a group of “riotous” war veterans who were chanting liberation war slogans took control of Inyanga Downs at the behest of Buwu who allegedly obtained an offer letter behind the other shareholders’ backs.
“While the partners were finding ways of making the business grow, respondent (Buwu) clandestinely applied for an offer letter in respect of the piece of land upon which applicant has been conducting its operations,” said Garwe
“I verily believe that he used the (political) connections that he has to get his offer letter processed as he knows so much about the farm and crucially knew that the piece of land involved had no formal beneficiary.”
Buwu allegedly mobilised war veterans to seize the farm on May 20 and took over 600 tonnes of apples which were stored in the farm’s cold room and were ready for sale and eight hectares of potatoes and flowers. He also allegedly took custody of the keys to the safe and all bank accounts.
Garwe said Buwu kept the letter secret until May 31 this year when he mobilised war veterans and declared he was the rightful owner of the farm.
Buwu has suspended James Ross, the general manager and other employees considered loyal to Mujuru and appointed David Nyakawango in Ross’s position.
“On the 31st of May 2010 respondent (Buwu) in the company of certain riotous individuals (singing and chanting liberation war songs) who identified themselves as war veterans visited the farm. They served the general manager with a suspension letter advising that he will be suspended for a period of 30 days in order for his interests and well-being to be protected,” reads part of Garwe’s founding affidavit.
And the letter also further advised him that “all the monies that he had, had to be banked in respondents (Buwu’s) personal account”,
In the affidavit Garwe, accuses Buwu of acting in bad faith at a time when they thought they were all working together.
“On my part I did not suspect that anything untoward could happen to the investment particularly given that we have in our midst General Mujuru who is and seemed to be well-respected by the parties,” said Garwe.
Garwe said security personnel deployed at the farm had denied directors of Inyanga Downs Holdings, including Mujuru, access to the farm.
“Security personnel have also been deployed on the farm with strict instructions not to allow any of the directors access to the farm. I have been denied such access,” Garwe stated.
The matter is yet to be set down for a hearing.