By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
27 March 2014
The chaotic nature of the land grab exercise is yet again being illustrated with prominent loyalists of President Robert Mugabe reportedly fighting over land in two separate incidents.
Reports this week said ZANU PF Mashonaland West chairperson, Themba Mliswa, is fighting to take over a Norton farm from its owner in defiance of a court order. In Mashonaland Central, deputy chief secretary to the President and Cabinet, Justin Mupamhanga, is involved in a messy fight with his three neighbors over a Bindura farm.
Pieter Nel has approached the High Court seeking an order barring Mliswa from taking over Kingsdale Farm and allocating it to illegal settlers. In 2013 the Constitutional Court ruled that the government had illegally acquired the farm. As a result 1,500 families settled there were rendered homeless, but it was later agreed between government and Nel, that the settlers would buy their allocated pieces of land. However, Mliswa chipped in threatening to seize the property on behalf of the settlers.
From Bindura, reports are that Mupamhanga and his three neighbors are fighting over boundaries to pieces of land which were allocated to them within the Argyle farm. So messy was the fight that officials from the president’s office, land ministry and the police moved in to identify the boundaries. But according to Mupamhanga’s High Court application, Douglas Dhliwayo, Blessing Dombojena and Saul Gomwe are ‘defiantly refusing to move out of the partitions of land they were illegally occupying.’
Economic analyst Masimba Kuchera said the development on the farmlands was not surprising because chaos was inherent in the land grab exercise. He said: ‘The genesis of the land reform exercise was chaotic and opaque; so these continued conflicts and corruption are natural consequences. Just as it is not the first time to hear this it is bound to continue for a long time.’
Kuchera said the chaos on the farms shows that ZANU PF has not abandoned its disregard for the rule of law, property rights and the economy as whole. He said continued wrangles meant that there would no production and the economy would suffer more.
He added: ‘The essence of the land reform was not production but possession and patronage and so these fights speak to that. These people are concerned about what they own and not what they produce.’
Mliswa and Mupamhanga’s cases follow yet another land saga in which the First Family has evicted a group of families from a stretch of land in Mazowe, allegedly to establish a game park. The developments also come at a time when ZANU PF zealots are calling for more land grabs under the pretext of economic empowerment.