A HIGH Court judge is involved in a farm ownership dispute with a University of Zimbabwe lecturer in a saga that has exposed the often-chaotic manner in which the country’s land reforms were implemented.
Justice Chinembiri Bhunu and Professor Lovemore Gwanzura are both claiming ownership of Dasktop Subdivision 4 in Mashonaland East province in a dispute that is now before the courts.
The farm was initially given to David Mangota, the permanent secretary in the ministry of justice who handed it over to Bhunu after securing the bigger Mbembezaan Farm in Mvuma in 2007, The Sunday Times newspaper reported.
Mangota wrote to Ray Kaukonde, who was then governor of Mashonaland East, in 2008 advising him of the change of ownership.
"I write to advise that the above mentioned farm (Dasktop Farm) which falls within your province was formerly allocated to your acquaintance, Mr Justice Bhunu," Mangota wrote in a letter that is before the courts.
However, in January of the same year a provincial chief lands officer for Mashonaland East in the office of the president, one J Munyanyi, also wrote a letter recommending Gwanzura be allocated Dasktop Farm.
Gwanzura now claims the Judge is interfering with operations at the farm.
"I moved onto the farm in October 2007 after I was recommended by the provincial lands committee. I also had an offer letter issued to me by Minister Mutasa, but the offer letter was withdrawn before it was issued to me. It's all confusing.
"If I plant he will come to harvest and if I plough he will come to put the seed in, but he is not doing anything at the farm except to vandalise," he said.
Still, Mangota insists that Bhunu is the rightful new owner of the property.
"I gave him possession of the farm and the house after he had showed me the offer letter which the Land Acquiring and Allocating Authority had issued to him.
"I remained convinced of the fact that he was and is in terms of the relevant legislation, the lawful tenant of Dasktop Farm," the permanent secretary said in a sworn statement written in June 2008.
The court documents also suggest Bhunu had the pick of a number of alternative properties before finally settling for Dasktop.
The judge was initially offered Rockland Farm in Marondera, but could not settle on it because it was "subdivided into smaller A1 plots and allocated to numerous other contenders".
He was later offered Illing Farm, but could not settle on it because it was double allocated.
As a third option he was offered Aldington Farm in Seke, but he chose not to settle on it because, "it lay amongst certain problematic properties subject to bilateral state agreements".