HomeLocalMandaza Cites Politics in Land Dispute

Mandaza Cites Politics in Land Dispute

FORMER newspaper publisher Ibbo Mandaza, embroiled in a land ownership dispute with a Harare woman, has told the High Court that the matter is political because he contested last year’s House of Assembly elections under the ticket of Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD) movement.

Documents lodged with the High Court, in which Mandaza is challenging the acquisition of 119 hectares of his land by government, reveal that the property in dispute was allocated to Colleta Muzonzini, a major in the Zimbabwe National Army.

Mandaza, who is the managing director and major shareholder of Panhowe Farm (Private) Limited, said the wrangle started months after he stood by former Finance minister Simba Makoni, one of the candidates in last year’s presidential elections.

“On this point, it may not escape this Honourable Court’s notice that I was a candidate in the 2008 parliamentary elections, representing Mavambo Movement, headed by Dr Simba Makoni, who contested for the presidency,” said Mandaza in his affidavit. “We both lost, and accepted it, but the developments did not go down well with certain people, and the events regarding this land have had political utterances made which I am unable to ignore.”

Mandaza is seeking an order barring Muzonzini from occupying the piece of land in Mazowe.

Mandaza now faces possible arrest for illegally occupying state land.

Mandaza bought the farm called Passaford A of Manyuki in Mazowe in 1990.

In 1996, he purchased the remaining land of Manyuki Farm and renamed the entire land Panhowe Farm.

He then discovered that there was a deliberate alteration of farm boundaries by former farm owners, denying Manyuki farm access to water from Murowodzi River. But that was later resolved and the land comprising 611 hectares consolidated, including the piece of land in question after approval from the Ministry of Lands in 2004.

Mandaza is currently constructing a medium-sized dam on the disputed land. In addition, Mandaza set aside 76 hectares for a hotel, conference centre and holiday resort to be managed by Rainbow Toursim Group. The resort also includes a golf estate. There are also  plans for 50 plots of three acres each for construction of country homes.

But the trouble started in early December last year when the construction of the dam had already started. Muzonzini, who is the second respondent after the Minister of Lands, showed up at the farm claiming that she had an offer letter for the portion of land consolidated into Panhowe farm.

After being told that there must have been a mistake, she left only to return on February 14 accompanied by police officers from Mazowe Police Station.

She spoke to Mandaza over the phone, who explained the history of the farm.

In mid-May, a certain man only known in the neighbourhood as Matthew cut trees on the land in question and attempted to build a shelter, saying he had been sent by Muzonzini.

On May 18, a group of soldiers in uniform went to the farm and allegedly assaulted farm workers accusing them of blocking Matthew and Muzonzini from occupying the land. Both events were reported to Mazowe Police Station.

In June, Mandaza was ordered to attend a meeting either at Mazowe Police Station or at the offices of the Lands Inspectorate at Compensation House in Harare. The inspectorate was set up to implement and enforce land policy and is made up of senior police, central intelligence and army officers.

At one meeting at the Land Inspectorate offices, Mandaza said he was harangued and threatened with arrest and detention for occupying state land without permission.

He said the officers refused to listen to his explanations.

On many occasions, Muzonzini thereafter tried to move onto the farm. Threats and demands from the Lands Inspectorate continued.

Despite appealing to the Minister of Lands for assistance, there was no reprieve and demands from the inspectorate intensified, Mandaza claimed.

In his court application, Mandaza is seeking for an order declaring lawful the consolidation of the land in question. He wants Muzonzini to be given another piece of land.

Faith Zaba

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