In a case that may open a can of worms and rock the Unity Accord between Zanu PF and PF Zapu, prominent businessman and former Zipra commander Fred Mutanda is being arraigned before the courts on charges of resisting a government order to evict him from his farm.
Mutanda is due to appear before the magistrates’ court in Chinhoyi next Monday on allegations he refused to vacate a farm designated for resettlement under the land reform programme.
The state contends the farm was allocated to Andrew Maringa, a former senior official in the President’s Office.
The farm in contention is located in the Mutorashanga area in Mashonaland West.
Zipra was the armed wing of PF Zapu, led by the late nationalist Joshua Nkomo.
Zipra together with Zanla, the armed wing of Zanu PF, waged the armed struggle that brought independence to the country.
Mutanda, who bought the farm in the 1990s, is a former confidante to the late Vice-President Nkomo.
He is chairman of both Caps Holdings and the American Business Association in Zimbabwe.
Mutanda and other former Zipra combatants have formed their own war veterans’ association which advocates for peace and order in Zimbabwe.
The group is opposed to actions by the war veterans’ faction led by Jabulani Sibanda who is on a nationwide campaign to collect signatures for the Zanu PF-engineered anti-sanctions petition.
Mutanda is being charged together with Sean Lardner-Burke and Michael Mutanda. They are being charged in their personal capacities for allegedly occupying gazetted land.
The action against Mutanda is likely to incur the anger of former PF Zapu and Zipra combatants who regard it as harassment.
According to court papers, the former Zipra commander and his co-accused are refusing to leave Subdivision B of Kahao Farm, which measures 3 865 acres.
The property is registered as Winray Estates (Pvt) Ltd.
The complainant is the state. According to the state outline, the farm was gazetted on July 25 2003 and this was published in the Government Gazette.
“It was therefore acquired through Constitution Amendment (Number 17) Act as State land by operation of the law,” read the state outline.
“The accused was supposed to have left the farm before the 4th of February 2007 but the accused defied the law by failing to vacate the farm. The accused have no lawful authority to continue occupying, holding or using the said state land.”
But the designation of Mutanda’s farm has raised eyebrows because only white-owned farms were targeted.
Mutanda is expected to argue in court he bought the farm in the 1990s.
Maringa, who has been allocated the farm, took Mutanda to court in Chinhoyi in 2008 seeking his eviction from the property, but later withdrew the case.
No reasons were given for the withdrawal of the case.
However, the matter has now been resuscitated and the state wants Mutanda jailed for refusing to vacate the farm.