By Richard Muponde
PROBLEMS continue to mount for former First Lady Grace Mugabe’s business empire after a Mazowe gold miner she allegedly displaced during her late husband, former President Robert Mugabe’s rule applied for a spoliation order to repossess the farm and equipment where his mine is located.
The “spoliation order” is a common law remedy whose purpose is to promote the rule of law and to serve as a shield against cases of “self-help”, where parties take the law into their own hands and exercise “power” which they do not have.
The miner, Langton Chapungu, whose case was already in the High Court seeking the eviction of the former First Lady; together with two other individuals who were only identified in court papers as Tongai and Jemwa, made an application for spoliation order last week.
In the application dated March 5, 2020, Chapungu is seeking an order that Grace returns to him vehicles and farm equipment she allegedly grabbed from him along with the farm. In his founding affidavit, Chapungu said sometime in 2008, Grace unlawfully dispossessed him of his property and said her actions were unlawful.
“Pursuant to the above, I am advised that a spoliation order is an order for repossession of property which had been unlawfully disposed using illicit means,” he submitted.
“I was in lawful possession and the possession was despoiled by the respondent (Grace). The applicant (Chapungu) wishes to submit before this honourable court that the respondent used her political muscles as a former President’s wife who was immune to prosecution, hence she decided to unlawfully take the law onto her hands.”
Chapungu said in spite of the knowledge that the property belonged to him, Grace proceeded to unlawfully grab it.
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“There’s no other remedy which will afford applicant the same relief as that afford by spoliation. A spoliation order will be the only way to ensure that applicant can fully exercise his right over the property in question,” he said.
“The applicant is, therefore, justified in approaching this honourable court seeking an order of spoliation as per draft order. Wherefore it is on these humble respectful submissions that I pray that such despoiled property be returned to the applicant.”
Since Mugabe’s ouster from power in a November 2017 coup, the former First Family has not enjoyed peace.
Several lawsuits have been filed against Grace by farmers and miners who claim she dispossessed them of their land.
The family is facing similar threats from Harare property owners who were displaced to pave way for expansion of Mugabe’s Blue Roof mansion in Borrowdale.
The eviction bid comes after Mashonaland Central provincial mining director Tariro Ndhlovu, through a memo dated September 18, 2019, called on all mining claim owners in Manzou, Surtic, Smithfield, Arnold, Yarrowdale, Foyle Estate, Brecon, Bandari, Brundret, Maggiesdale and Glenbervile farms, some of which were owned by Grace, to get back on the farms.
Grace also risks losing one of her properties that form part of her family’s Blue Roof mansion in Borrowdale following a High Court ruling in June to let go of the land in favour of the applicants, Farai and Nyasha Chitsinde.
Grace had until today to move off the contested land.