THE net is closing in on Zanu PF bigwigs and security chiefs who allegedly looted white-owned farms during the land reform programme.
Co-Home Affairs Minister Theresa Makone has already circulated a dossier to senior Home Affairs officials linking senior Zanu PF officials and military officers who allegedly looted the farms.Makone has asked the officials to find out why the police have not dealt with the cases. The cases also involved officials who have defied High Court orders.
“I have received a document which I am working on. I have handed it over to the permanent secretary of Home Affairs to check what happened to the cases,” Makone told the Zimbabwe Independent on Wednesday. “It’s a long list and I won’t be surprised if there are senior Zanu PF officials on the list. First we have to find out what happened and then move from there.”
According to the document, the police in some cases refused to enforce High Court orders.
“They have also declined to take action against the persons who have unlawfully taken occupation of the farms in question and are in the process of looting,” the dossier, seen by the Independent, read. “A situation of lawlessness now persists on the farms with the tacit approval of the police.”
This comes after controversial businessman and former Zanu PF Mashonaland West provincial executive Temba Mliswa was arrested three times and charged with fraud and looting of farms. He is now facing over 70 charges dating back to 2002 related to farm invasions.
Kembo Mohadi, the other co-Home Affairs minister, told the Independent this week that the police should investigate anyone who commits a crime irrespective of the person’s rank, title or position in government and party.
Police confirmed in the Harare Magistrates Court last week that they could not investigate individuals like Mliswa in the past because he was “untouchable”.
Asked if failure to investigate senior security and Zanu PF officials was because they were seen as untouchables, Mohadi said: “There is no one that is above the law. It is just a perception. If a case has been reported to the police, they should take action and they should apply the law as is.
“If there is any case that they have been sweeping under the carpet, these should be brought before the courts. The police will not be allowed to do that.”
According to the dossier circulated by Makone, Brigadier Justin Itayi Mujaji has ignored six High Court orders to vacate Korori Farm in Rusape and also ignored a letter from the then governor of Manicaland,
Tinaye Chigudu, stating that the late Vice-President Joseph Msika had endorsed Charles Lock’s stay on the farm.
Since February 2007, Lock has obtained six High Court orders. In May 2008, Brigadier Mujaji allegedly used armed uniformed soldiers to physically evict Lock from the farm and has since barred him from entering the farm.
“The police at police general headquarters have indicated to Lock that they are unable to assist him enforce the court orders because they fear an armed response from the soldiers as Brigadier Mujaji has threatened to shoot any police officers who try to enforce the court orders,” read the document.
On February 23 2007, in case number HC 824/07, Lock obtained an order for Mujaji to vacate the farm. On September 7 2007, in case number HC 3654/07, he obtained another order of contempt on the brigadier and an order for the police to enforce the judgment.
On the same day, Lock in case number HC 4974/07 got a writ of arrest on Mujaji and on July 16 2009, case number HC 2285/09, he got a second order for Mujaji to vacate the farm.
On September 24 2009, case number HC 3244/09, the High Court ordered Mujaji to stop interfering with farming activities and instructed the police to enforce the judgment.
The dossier also included cases of fraud, theft and common assault reported in Karoi allegedly committed by Mliswa.
Top on the list in the dossier were cases allegedly committed by prominent businessman Philip Chiyangwa and Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo and documentary evidence to support the cases were attached.
The dossier stated that on April 12, acting Harare Mayor Charity Bango lodged an official complaint of corruption against Chiyangwa and two employees of the city council, reference number IR 040725. On April 15, the acting mayor lodged another report against Chombo.
“Thus far no action has been taken by the police against Mr Philip Chiyangwa, Dr Ignatius Chombo and the city council employees who have been implicated for corruption by Harare City Council,” read the dossier.
Also on the list is the case involving Chipinge Magistrate Samuel Zuze, who ordered the immediate evictions of Algernon Taffs of Chirega farm, Dawie Joubert of Stilfontein, Mike Odendaal of Hillcrest, and Mike Jahme of Silverton farm.
The farmers successfully petitioned the High Court to issue an order suspending Zuze’s order. The magistrate refused to receive and comply with the High Court order, but instead ordered the arrest of the persons who sought to serve him with the order. To make matters worse, Zuze was given a portion of Silverton farm, one of the cases he was presiding over.
The Mliswa case has opened a can of worms with the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) saying the matter exposed the looting of white-owned farms under the pretext of the land reform exercise.
CFU vice-president Charles Taffs has been quoted saying: “It’s highlighted an issue which we have been pushing for 10 years and that is the looting on the farms hiding behind the land reform. What we have witnessed over the last 10 years is that beneficiaries have come onto farms and asset-stripped them, leaving farms with absolutely nothing.”
Harare lawyer David Drury yesterday said he was dealing with more than 600 cases of white farmers who lost property to senior Zanu PF officials and army generals under the guise of the land reform programme.
He told the Independent that there were many white commercial farmers who were seeking justice to no avail.
“We had tried on several times to have the perpetrators dealt with but we were squashed,” Drury said referring to Mliswa’s matter. “The cases are opened now and it looks like it’s a miracle. I am pleased that the people who looted the property are made accountable. We remain to see the finality of the cases.”
CFU president David Theron said the police must apply the law evenly without leaving any sacred cows.
“Finally, the law has taken its course and we are grateful that justice will prevail. It’s not about commercial farmers but mainly the rule of law,” he said.
He gave an example of Major-General Nicholas Dube, who allegedly looted property from Chipinge farmers Michael Odendaal and Michael Jahme and also allegedly harassed Paul Stibulph in Karoi.
Stibulph allegedly lost farm equipment, tobacco and soya bean crop worth US$ 900 000 to Dube.
High Court judge Justice Lavender Makoni gave an order in November 2009 for Stibulph to repossess his property, but he was barred from entering Grand Parade Farm by soldiers manning the property.
David Younghusband, who owned Foliot Farm in Karoi, allegedly lost farm equipment worth over US$1 million to Brigadier-General Francis Mutisi.
Younghusband has since relocated to New Zealand after failing to repossess his tractors, lorries, irrigation equipment and delivery vans.
A High Court judge on April 15 ordered a Lieutenant-Colonel M Masabeya in case number HC 2227/10 to return equipment, which included irrigation pipes, vehicles spares, tractors, trailers, electric motors, motorbikes and land preparation implements removed from Matanuska (Pvt) Ltd in Mutare but this has not been complied with.
The issue has divided senior Zanu PF officials and exposed rifts within the party, with one group saying Mliswa should name and shame senior officials who had dealings with him and have them prosecuted.
Another group says prosecuting the cases related to the land reform programme would open a Pandora’s Box and set a bad precedent which might force the police to investigate senior Zanu PF and government officials.
Mliswa has already named police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri, prominent businessman and Zanu PF central committee member Paddington Zhanda, and wife of commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Jocelyn Chiwenga, as having allegedly bought three of the six generators, which the former fitness trainer allegedly stole in Karoi.
Faith Zaba/ Farai Mutsaka/Brian Chitemba