New twist to Malunga farm ownership wrangle as Govt responds

Nick Mangwana

GOVERNMENT has opened up on the ongoing farm wrangle between itself and lawyer Sipho Malunga, the son of liberation struggle veteran Sydney Malunga.

Government has repossessed in Matabeleland North does not belong to Osisa director Mr Siphosami Malunga and his two partners but was compulsorily acquired under the Land Reform programme in 2004 from a white farmer, the Herald has learnt.

Mr Malunga and his partners later bought a shadowy company that claimed to own the farm, but did not have exclusive ownership of the land in question since it had been acquired by Government almost two decades before.

Matabeleland North Province Minister of State Hon Richard Moyo said Government is not in the business of removing blacks from farms and Malunga and his partners can benefit from the largesse if they do not own land elsewhere.

“The farm in question belonged to white farmers by the name of Swindells. When Government compulsorily acquired land in the 2000s we did not immediately resettle people because there was a black man by name Eddie Warambwa who claimed to have bought the farm from the white man. It was only after his death that we realised that he was a front of the white man and measures were taken to repossess the land, there is no victimisation here.

“Maybe Mr Malunga and his partners bought assets on the farm but certainly not the land as it belongs to Government. We are in the process of allocating the land and those who were on the farm will benefit just as any other Zimbabwean if they do not have another piece of land elsewhere,” he said.

This comes as Mr Malunga has been claiming on social media platforms that the repossession of the land he illegally occupied in 2017 is not about the Land Reform programme.

But investigations have revealed that the three, who, apart from Mr Malunga, also include Mr Zephaniah Dhlamini and Charles Moyo, instead of applying for the land to Government, when the offer was presented to them they chose not to.

Malunga, who leads the thinktank Open Society Institute of Southern Africa (OSISA) and is based in South Africa, yesterday accused the Government of perpetuating the Gukurahundi persecutions saying his staff at the Matabeleland based 500ha farm were yesterday told by Government authorities to vacate the property as Government wants to re allocate it.

Malunga has been running an agricultural venture on the land which he says he bought four years ago from a private seller. He however never disclosed the purchase proof or price and instead shared documents which show the land was in the name of Kershelmar, an agro processing company.

But Government spokesperson Nick Mangwana said this Tuesday afternoon that Malunga is not the owner of the farm in question and only paid US$33,000 purchase price for a stand and not for the farm.

“In 2004 Govt acquired a farm that belonged to a Mr Swindells who left for New Zealand then. The title deeds remain in his name. One Eddie Warambwa leased the farm from Swindells until 2010 when he died.

“In 2017 Sipho Malunga bought a Swindells company for US$33k. Clearly the 500ha farm had already been acquired by Govt in 2004 was not part of this transaction. A stand, and not a farm is bought for US33k. To say Govt is taking a Malunga farm is incorrect,” Mangwana said.

He added that Zanu-PF legislator for Bulawayo South, Raj Modi, tried to purchase the same land in 2010 but chickened out of the deal after he realized it was State land.

“In 2010 @RModiByoSouth bought the farm at an auction for US$250k as part of the Warambwa Estate debt but discovered it was already State land and abandoned the purchase.

“A purported purchase in 2017 does not dislodge Govt acquisition in 2004,” Nick asserted.

Mangwana accused the Malunga family of being dishonest saying they were infact offered 70 ha of the land but have refused insisting they own all of it.

“In fact they are using only 30ha of this land and this land is being subdivided and being given to a number of people. They were offered 70 hectares of this and they declined maintaining it was theirs.

“In any case they already have 1600ha in Bubi in Matabeleland North,” said Mangwana.

Malunga yesterday insisted the farm was private land but was evasive when asked who the official owner of the land was.

“The farm is wholly privately owned by 3 black individuals and we only got to see the Gazette and acquisition notice issued on 18 December for the first time today after the Lands Officer gave us the number and told us to go to government printers,” he said.

Meanwhile, Malunga was unreachable for comment on the latest revelations.