Last year, war veterans led by the Mazowe district war veteran chairperson Ephanos Mudzimunyi invaded Kasukuwere’s Concorpia Farm and helped themselves to his harvest, leading to the self-exiled former minister to seek recourse from the courts.
The farm was among those that had been targeted for repossession by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government and yesterday, workers at the farm told NewsDay that Mudzimunyi had taken control of the 130-hectare farm claiming that he had been allocated the piece of land by the late Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement minister Perrance Shiri.
Mudzimunyi is said to be staying in one of the farmhouses with his family, while production at the farm has been stagnant.
“He is still occupying the farm and says he is not going anywhere. There hasn’t been production here despite that we have a court order and even engaged the Sheriff of court, but nothing has moved,” one of the workers told NewsDay yesterday.
“We did not do anything the whole season and that is a big loss for the farm. Workers are there and they are being paid by Kasukuwere even without doing any work.
“He (the war veteran) is harvesting oranges from the farm and is selling them without the farm owners’ consent.”
Kasukuwere, who is based in South Africa, fled the country in 2017 following the November 2017 military coup that ousted the late former President Robert Mugabe in whose government he served. He told NewsDay that Mudzimunyi’s actions showed that there was need for institutions in the country to respect the law.
“The invaders should realise that times have changed and they will not be spared for the damages made on the farm, and we will charge them,” Kasukuwere said.
“Institutions should respect the law. The Sheriff’s office is in serious breach of law in spite of the fact that I have also paid for the removal of the illegal settlers.”
Mudzimunyi was not available at the farm when NewsDay visited the farmhouse that he occupies in order to get a comment from him.
In May last year, Kasukuwere alleged that the illegal takeover of the farm scuttled a US$5 million investment deal with a Dubai-based tycoon.
This prompted him to file an urgent High Court chamber application challenging government’s decision to expropriate part of the farm.
The High Court ruled in his favour, but Mudzimunyi has allegedly continued to harvest export quality oranges on Lot 2, the best part of the vast estate running parallel to the perennial Mazowe River.
Observers have accused the ruling Zanu-PF party of using farm invasions to silence its critics.
Last week, war veteran and businessman Fred Mutanda’s farm in Mutorashanga, Mashonaland West province, was invaded by a group of suspected Zanu-PF youths who said they were not happy with him for “undermining” Mnangagwa by filing papers at the High Court opposing the extension of Chief Justice Luke Malaba’s term of office.
Mutanda last week told NewsDay that he was being accused of working with Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga and Judge President Justice George Chiweshe to undermine the President after he joined the Young Lawyers Association of Zimbabwe in suing government, the Judicial Service Commission, Attorney-General Prince Machaya and Malaba to fight his (Malaba’s) term extension which the courts ruled illegal.
“They (the government) don’t want to be accountable and by doing so, we are betraying what we fought for. You then ask yourself why then did I become a freedom fighter if such things continue to happen 41 years after independence,” Mutanda said.
“They are cowards and now accuse me of teaming up with Vice-President Chiwenga and Judge President Chiweshe in the application they say was undermining the President. I don’t even speak to those people and have never even met them for a cup of tea.”