BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
GOVERNMENT’S latest blitz on land barons has exposed serious political undercurrents, with one of the suspected barons, Wellington Peyama, sensationally claiming that he was being hounded by Housing and Social Amenities minister Daniel Garwe for allegedly backing Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga’s bid to succeed President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Peyama, who is a prominent Chitungwiza businessman, claimed in a letter dated February 3 that Garwe harboured presidential ambitions and viewed him as an impediment, hence labelling him a land baron.
Peyama’s claims come at time there are divisions within the Zanu PF party, amid allegations that some top officials aligned to Chiwenga were plotting Mnangagwa’s ouster.
The Vice-President has, however, publicly denied the charge.
Chiwenga was recently tasked to deal with land barons and bring sanity to the issue of illegal settlements.
Peyama accused Garwe of stopping Chitungwiza Municipality from returning his seized land despite a court order.
In a letter to Garwe, Peyama, who is also a top Zanu PF official, accused the Housing minister of working in cahoots with Harare provincial development co-ordinator Tafadzwa Muguti to frustrate his efforts to reclaim his land compensation from Chitungwiza Municipality.
“I refer to our past encounter which has brought forth shocking revelations that you are fighting me because I am an impediment for your aspirations to the highest office of (sic) the land,” Peyama wrote.
“However, I am at a loss as to how you deem the Honourable Vice-President (Chiwenga) to be your enemy whom you allege I am fighting on his behalf. In any case, is there a vacancy in the highest office of (sic) the land? How have I fought you on behalf of the Vice-President as you allege? Is there proof of funds received by me from the Vice-President?” he asked.
Peyama denied being Chiwenga’s runner, saying “for the record I have never had a one-on-one encounter with the Honourable Vice-President in my entire life”.
“It has now dawned on me that all along, you have been behind the resistance I have been getting from Chitungwiza in the compensation of land to my company issue. You consider me an enemy and you have identified my company’s case with Chitungwiza Municipalityu as bastion for exacting revenge,” he added.
In the letter, which was copied to Chiwenga, Local Government minister July Moyo, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and Muguti, Peyama dismissed the allegation that he was being paid to support Chiwenga’s bid to wrest power from Mnangagwa.
He added that he once roped in a senior party member named Simon Chinganga to resolve their differences, to no avail.
“In your discussion with Cde Simon Chinganga on January 21, 2021 at your offices, you made serious allegations against me that I am being sponsored to stay in a five-star hotel by the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, yet I am not employed by that ministry,” he wrote.
Peyama yesterday confirmed the authenticity of the letter, while efforts to contact Chinganga for a comment were fruitless at the time of going to print last night.
Peyama added: “You (Garwe) also allege that land was donated to me by the former First Lady Grace Mugabe in Chitungwiza on account of my alleged allegiance to the G40 cabal, and that I was a land baron in Chitungwiza. The allegations you made are defamatory and have no foundation.”
Garwe yesterday acknowledged receipt of Peyama’s letter.
“I do acknowledge that I got Peyama’s letter. However, please note that the matter is being handled by the appropriate authorities at appropriate levels, and you will be advised accordingly,” Garwe said.
Peyama and his company, Peyama Investments, have been making frantic efforts to reclaim land which was repossessed by Chitungwiza Municipality.
In 2017, Peyama said he donated the land to the Zanu PF Women’s League through Grace for the construction of a 6 000-seater hall.
He, however, could not confirm whether it was the same land which was later grabbed by the local authority.
Peyama said he would disclose more details at a Press conference in Harare today.
“I have overwhelming evidence against Garwe to dismiss the malicious allegation he is levelling against me. The evidence includes documents, phone calls and text messages which I will avail tomorrow (today) for the public to get the whole truth behind this drama,” he said.
Zanu PF officials have often been accused of shielding land barons from prosecution, and using State land for political expediency.
Several hundreds of unsuspecting homeseekers have often fallen prey to land barons, with their structures demolished after being deemed illegal.
Former Cabinet minister Petronella Kagonye is today expected to appear in court on allegations of parcelling out State land to housing co-operatives in Goromonzi as part of the Zanu PF campaign strategy for the 2013 elections.
Last week, another alleged Chitungwiza land baron, Fredrick Mabamba of United West and Housing Co-operative, was arrested and detained on allegations of illegal parcelling out of residential stands in the dormitory town.