THREE Zanu PF cabinet ministers have been named as trustees of an organisation that reportedly forced a Rusape farmer to cede a 50% shareholding in his business under the guise of the land reform programme.
The ministers, Didymus Mutasa, Patrick Chinamasa and Joseph Made, are named as trustees of Makoni Wildlife Farming Trust, which was allocated wildlife-rich Mona Farm in Rusape belonging to Gordon Taylor in 2008 during Mutasa’s tenure as Minister of State for National Security, Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement in the President’s Office. The other trustee is former Zanu PF Manicaland chairman Shadreck Chipanga.
Sources said Taylor was invited to Mutasa’s house in Rusape between August and September 2008, where he was told to give up half the shareholding in Mona Agricultural Tourism (Pvt) Ltd, which was conducting business on the farm before it was designated for compulsory acquisition.
Taylor was the owner of Mona Agricultural Tourism (Pvt) Ltd. Subsequent to the meeting, the sources said, a memorandum of agreement was drafted under which Ms Maud Murembwe was to represent the interests of the trustees in the business.
The agreement reads: “Within seven days after the signature of this agreement; the parties shall be obliged to procure that Mona ratifies and adopts in writing the provisions of this agreement and that the transfer of shares referred to in clauses 2.3.1 are duly transferred, consideration therefore being an undertaking, hereby expressed, by Murembwe, that Gordon Frederick Taylor shall be formally employed in a management capacity by Mona, terms and conditions of which shall, as far as practically possible, remain the same as those benefits currently enjoyed directly and indirectly from Mona.”
Under clause 2.1.1 of the agreement, Gordon Frederick Taylor and Linda Taylor were supposed to transfer their shares in Mona to Taylor and Murembwe in a way meant to achieve an equal shareholding in the issued shares between Taylor and Murembwe. No further shares were supposed to be issued and the unissued shares remained in the control of Taylor and Murembwe.
Although officials at the Registrar of Companies said the Zanu PF officials were yet to be listed on the CR 14 of the company, the Trust’s proxy was already reaping dividends from its operations, the sources said.
“Makoni Wildlife Farming Trust got 1 100 hectares and granted the beneficiaries the right to operate. Maud is benefiting 50% from the farm but did not contribute anything. The Zanu PF people are just looting from the property where the Taylor family invested heavily over the years,” said a source.
“Due to pressure from Mutasa, Chipanga, Made and Chinamasa, Taylor was forced to give up 50% of his shares to Maud,” the source said. “The controversial businessman (Temba) Mliswa was also involved in the acquisition of Mona because he was sent around by Mutasa.”
Mutasa yesterday denied that he had any links to Mona (Pvt) Ltd.
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” he said. “Anyway, I thought Zimbabweans were working together but some of you (Zimbabwe Independent) are still concentrating on dividing us,” he said.
Chipanga denied that Taylor was disturbed by the farm acquisitions, saying he was one of the few white farmers in Makoni District. He acknowledged being part of the Makoni Wildlife Farming Trust.
“I am not aware of the shares that were taken from Taylor. I remember there was mention of the trust but don’t know what happened to it,” said Chipanga.
Made could not comment, saying he was in a meeting but subsequent efforts to reach him were fruitless as his mobile phone went unanswered. Chinamasa was also not reachable. The directors of the company are still listed as Gordon, Caroline and Leonard Taylor, according to sources close to the company.
Officials at the Deeds Registrar said that the Makoni Wildlife Farming Trust was not registered.
The trust named Taylor and Maud Murembwe – a close Mutasa ally – as its beneficiaries in the offer letter that allocated the farm to the Trust.
Taylor declined to comment, referring questions to his attorney, David Drury, who said he was dealing with the case but refused to release details citing client confidentiality.