By Miriam Mangwaya
FORMER Zanu PF Mashonaland East provincial chairperson Bernard Makokove’s bid to evict President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s aide Alfred Chagonda from his Rushfontain Farm in Chivhu was dismissed at the Civil Court on Wednesday.
In papers filed at the court, Makokove claimed that Chagonda, of 17820 Damofalls, in Harare, in 2018 illegally settled on Plot 4 of Rushfontain Farm in Featherstone, which he acquired through the land reform programme of 2003.
His application was, however, dismissed in a ruling passed by magistrate Batanai Madzingira on the basis that there were material disputes on the matter which could not be dismissed in an application, but in an action.
In his founding affidavit, Makokove, through his lawyers Messrs Chakanyuka of Chakanyuka and Associates Attorneys, accused Chagonda, whom he cited as first respondent, for practicing poor farming methods resulting in overgrazing and deforestation at the land in dispute, which was not permitted by the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement, cited as the second respondent in the matter.
Makokove also stated that he reported Chagonda to the police in 2018 under CR 124/18 when he settled on the land in dispute, but later took the matter to the civil court in August 2020 after some delays at the criminal court.
In his notice of opposition, Chagonda, through his lawyer from Rubaya-Chinuwo Law Chambers, submitted that he and several other individuals were allocated subdivisions of Rushfontain Farm in 2016 when it was downsized after Makokove failed to fully utilise it.
Makokove did not question the respondent’s occupation on the farm since then, the court heard.
Chagonda insisted that he was lawfully offered Plot 4 of Rushfountain Farm by the Mashonaland East provincial lands office and his ownership documents were still being processed. He also argued that the court had no jurisdiction to entertain the matter since it was a land dispute that could be dealt with by the Lands Commission.
“The applicant’s claim has prescribed. The applicant has known of my occupation since 2016 because we have met and interacted on several occasions. When the recommendation to downsize his farm was proposed by ministry of Lands officials, the applicant and I met in the presence of officials. He consented to the recommendation to downsize the farm and stated that what was important was for us to co-exist peacefully,” stated Chagonda.
Chagonda added that Makokove had even offered him grazing area on part of his land for his cattle farming project.
On the same matter at the criminal court, Chagonda appeared before Chivhu resident magistrate Sam Chitumwa on September 16, 2020 for contravening section 3(4) of the Gazetted Land Act after he allegedly occupied a subdivision of Rushfontain Farm without lawful authority.
The State, led by prosecutor Kumbirai Charamba, alleges that sometime in 2018, Chagonda occupied Rushfontain Farm where he is doing cattle farming without authority from the Lands ministry.
He was not asked to plead, but was remanded out of custody to September 29, 2020 for trial.