SELF-EXILED former Cabinet minister and Zanu PF politburo member, Jonathan Moyo, has accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government of systematically grabbing his property and others owned by G40 apparatchiks as punishment for refusing to recognise his administration.
BY CHARLES LAITON
Moyo made the claim in his court application yesterday, where he is challenging his eviction from his Mazowe farm by Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri.
He alleged that government grabbed his farm to “fix” him after he recently published a “hard-hitting” book, Excelgate, chronicling how Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF party rigged the July 30, 2018 general elections.
The former Higher Education minister, who twice served as government spin doctor in the late former President Robert Mugabe’s administration, claimed that he was last month served with an order to immediately vacate the Remainder of Patterson Farm measuring 622,9 hectares, although he had indicated to government that he purchased the farmland in 2002 for Z$6 million.
“This has been the case from the year 2004. I have always had problems with this farm whenever I have fallen out of favour with the ruling elite. The current problems can be traced to the political fallout leading to the ouster of RG Mugabe as President of the Republic,” Moyo said.
“I must point out that the military, led by the respondent (Shiri), announced that I was one of the criminals around the President who had to be weeded out. In the event, we were (weeded out).
“I also point out that the withdrawal (of the offer letter for the farm) has been made in the context of the publication, by me, of an academic book in which I expose what I consider to be the manner in which the 2018 elections were rigged. That the withdrawal comes hard upon the publication of that book is not a coincidence, particularly as it comes before I have exercised my full and effectual right to be heard.”
Early this week, Mugabe’s nephew, Robert Zhuwao, also petitioned the High Court with an application for review, challenging the withdrawal of his offer letter for his Zvimba farm.
In his founding affidavit, Zhuwao said he was offered the land under the land reform and resettlement programme back in 2004, but Mnangagwa’s government seized it in April last year on the basis of “false allegations”.
Moyo said the allegations that he had not been utilising his farm were false and could not be substantiated, more so taking into account that he was forced into exile after the military attempted to kill him and his family.
“The withdrawal of the offer letter is based on material falsehoods of a concocted alleged underutilisation of the land, which does not take into account the manner in which the State has sought to sabotage my investment for cheap political ends,” he said, adding: “… It, is however, unacceptable that the respondent’s administration can hound me out of the country and then turn around and say I have failed to utilise the land.”
He said it was also dishonest of the State to claim that a farm that had been fully utilised up until the November 2017 military coup was being underutilised.
“To what period does the under-utilisation relate, given that we are only in (2020)? How have the same officials that benefited from the 2017 military intervention separated the issue of that intervention and the political differences that exist between us from the farm issue?” Moyo queried.
“How can the issue of repossession of the farm only arise, since the year 2004, whenever I have problems with my political contestants?”
The former minister further said his relationship with Shiri had always been sour, given that the former Air Force of Zimbabwe commander has, in the past, labelled him a “liberation war deserter”.
“Respondent and I do not have an exactly cordial relationship … in a 2017 local paper’s publication, he falsely and maliciously referred to me as a liberation war deserter, with links to an outfit aligned to the Rhodesian security services. I do not trust that he can deal impartially with issues that relate to me,” he said.
“Further, his (Shiri) actions must be considered in their context. I was viewed by his administration as one of the chief enemies, leading to a siege on my house and a clear attempt to murder me and my whole family. That the issue of my farm has arisen in this context does not surprise me. That does not, however, make it legal or otherwise reasonably justifiable. It is in this context that I raise the issues that I place before the court for its determination.”
Turning to the issue of immediate vacation of the farm, Moyo said this was in breach of his proprietary rights and the government was not taking into account the close to US$1 million investment that he had sunk into the farming project.
He further said the decision was made without jurisdiction in that the State, having previously sought to acquire the land and having abandoned the process later, purported to once again acquire it in 2006, but he had already bought the same with the State’s consent and concurrence.
“… the offer letter was withdrawn on December 11, 2019 … the withdrawal was said to be with immediate effect.
It goes on to advise that I was to wind up all my operations and vacate the piece of land … I draw attention to the fact that the purported withdrawal comes right in the middle of the farming season after I had made serious investments totalling around $120 000,” he said.
“For reasons that are political, I have not been able to get any inputs assistance from the State and the investment, thus, made represents our unaided investment as a family. In this regard, second applicant’s (Beatrice Ambiyo Moyo) financial interests are directly imperilled.
“Finally, though noticing that I had in November expressed the intention to place before him (Shiri) my fuller submissions having been hampered by the fact of my being in exile and the well-known fact that my house had been attacked and ransacked by members of the Zimbabwe National Army during the November 2017 military intervention, respondent dismisses my desire to assist him make an informed decision and hastily proceeds to reach a conclusion on the matter.”
Moyo said the value of the farm had shot up to over US$723 000 because of his family’s investment.
“I point out that we are involved in both crop and animal husbandry and have, at the present moment, some 120 heads of cattle and 55 hectares of maize, 35 hectares of soyabeans and five hectares of sunflower,” the former Zanu PF and government spin doctor argued.
The matter is pending.