BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
A ZIMBABWE People’s Revolutionary Army (ZPRA) ex-combatant recently got relief from the Lands and Agriculture ministry which debunked claims by the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) that land it leased to him had been acquired by the government for resettlement.
Over 100 settlers backed by some top Zanu PF Matabeleland South politicians have been resisting eviction from the NRZ-owned Woolendale Farm along the Bulawayo to Plumtree road that they invaded at the height of the land reform programme in 2000.
The refusal by settlers to vacate Woolendale Farm measuring 1 264 hectares has stalled an ambitious agro-project by PKD Malindi, an agro-processing firm that leased the property from the NRZ in 2003.
PKD Malindi is owned by ZPRA ex-combatant, Phathakahle Dube.
In 1999, the NRZ floated a tender for a joint venture project at the farm which was subsequently won by PKD Malindi. However, the agreement was only signed in 2003 for an initial period of five years subject to a further renewal upon agreement by both parties.
PKD Malindi has, however, failed to kick-start its cattle breeding, poultry production, market gardening and dog training project owing to the refusal by settlers to vacate the property despite several High Court rulings.
There have been claims some top NRZ and Zanu PF officials from Matabeleland South are backing them claiming they were rightfully resettled under the land reform programme.
- Chamisa under fire over US$120K donation
- Mavhunga puts DeMbare into Chibuku quarterfinals
- Pension funds bet on Cabora Bassa oilfields
- Councils defy govt fire tender directive
However, correspondence from the legal department of the Lands ministry dated January, 20 suggests otherwise.
“…We have checked our land database and observed that the farm in question belongs to NRZ and was never acquired by government for land resettlement purposes,” reads the letter signed by one D Tshuma, the director for legal affairs in the Lands ministry, addressed to NRZ lawyers.
In an interview last week, Dube said all he wanted “was to resume operations” and be compensated for “lost potential revenue” over the years.
“Justice must prevail. They were resettled illegally on that property prejudicing me of millions in lost revenue which those who settled them there must compensate me for,” Malindi told the Southern Eye.
He said it was regrettable that ex-combatants belonging to the party’s armed wing during the liberation struggle were facing unfair treatment with regards to the land issue compared to their Zanla comrades.
“We read this with great concern that while both Zipra and Zanla fought immensely for the liberation struggle, it is worrying that only Zanla veterans are benefiting from the national cake. They get better treatment and favours ahead of their Zipra colleagues,” said Ndodana Moyo, an executive member of Zapu.
The NRZ, according to correspondence, at one time said it had assumed control of Woolendale Farm claiming it had cancelled a lease agreement it entered into with PKD Malindi, a charge Dube denied.
NRZ spokesperson Nyasha Maravanyika could not be reached for comment.