BY CHARLES LAITON
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has withdrawn an offer letter for farmland extended to the late former President Robert Mugabe’s nephew, Robert Zhuwao, claiming it was not being utilised.
Zhuwao has approached the High Court to challenge the decision by Lands and Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri to seize his 232-hectare farm in Zvimba.
In his founding affidavit, Zhuwao said he was offered the land under the land reform and resettlement programme back in 2004, but the government seized it on the basis of a “false allegation” in April last year.
“On December 9, 2004, I was offered subdivision 1 of Cockington in Zvimba district in the province of Mashonaland West which is approximately 232.81 hectares in extent,” Zhuwao said.
“I fully complied with the requirements which came with the offer letter. I am, therefore, not in breach of any of the terms and conditions attached to the offer. Since I was allocated the plot, I have been farming tobacco, cereal crops, sunflower and poultry.”
However, Zhuwao said sometime in April last year, he was issued with a notice of intention to withdraw the offer letter by the Lands ministry on the allegation that he had abandoned the plot since 2011, an allegation which Zhuwao dismissed as false.
In his court papers, Zhuwao said although he replied the government’s notice, there was, however, no response to his opposing application.
He said he was shocked to receive another letter on October 16, 2019 notifying him of the immediate termination of his land offer letter.
“I submit that the respondent does not have jurisdiction to withdraw my offer letter because the enabling Act (Agricultural Land Resettlement Act) does not grant him the power to do so. It is only the President who can cancel or withdraw land offers, not the minister. The enactment under which the decision has been made does not authorise the minister to take such action. The decision is, therefore, ultra vires and cannot stand. It constitutes a gross irregularity in the decision and is subject to review,” he said.
Zhuwao further said he was also challenging the authenticity of the ministry’s letter which he said did not bear an official stamp.
“The letter does not bear an official stamp of the ministry to verify its authenticity. Further, the letter does not contain any reasons for the decision,” he said.
The matter is pending.