By Mary Taruvinga
FORMER local government minister Ignatious Chombo has been kicked out of his Allan Grange farm in Zvimba.
Strange enough, he was informed of the the decision via a phone call by lands minister Anxious Masuka.
Chombo, who fell out of Zanu PF’s favour in after the 2017 coup having been part of the G40 faction, occupied the farm at the height of the chaotic land reform programme in 2001.
he has been carrying out ranching, dairy and crop production at the property, measuring 3 098,81 hectares,
Chombo claims Masuka sent some officers ‘to call’, informing him that his farm was subject to re-pegging without notice.
He was told that other beneficiaries were going to take some space in the farm despite that he was fully utilising the farm.
The matter has since spilled into the courts, where Chombo sought interdict against the government.
In his founding affidavit, Chombo said he was allocated the farm in 2001 before his 99-year lease agreement was authorised in 2006.
He said since then he has regarded the farm as his farming home, which he occupied in peace.
“Now about 504 hectares of arable land under irrigation has been planted with soya, maize and potatoes. More importantly, I have prepared the land for wheat plantation with first of May 2022 as the priority date for seeding,” Chombo argued in his founding affidavit filed at the High Court.
“The other piece of farm is reserved for cattle and goat ranching. I have about 150 cattles and 100 goats,” said Chombo.
“I have made substantial developments at the farm including but not limited to construction of farmhouses, workers quarters, diary centre, storeroom, granary, shed, purchased various heavy farming equipment, electrified workers houses,” Chombo further told the High Court.
Chombo said he also employs 80 full time and 150 part time workers.
He said in 2018 he partnered with the government and a third party investor known as Peary Investments (Private) Limited.
They have invested more than US$3 million during the past two years in centre pivots, water pumps, underground piping, generators and irrigation equipment.
According to Chombo, unknown to him, Masuka re-planned the farm, subdivided it into 10 subdivisions which he offered to other beneficiaries before his 99-year lease was properly withdrawn.
He sought a declaratory order challenging the legality of his cancellation of his lease and the matter is still hanging before the courts.
Chombo said Masuka however went on to issue new offer letters in respect of the land under dispute.
Early this year Chombo was served with a letter of cancellation of his 99 year lease dated September 25 2021.
He said this was not done in line with the law.
Chombo said on March 23 2022, he then received calls from government officials under Masuka’s instructions, informing him that his farm will be subject to re-pegging.
He wrote to the minister telling him that the process should be stopped but Masuka chose not to respond.
Instead, on March 29 2022 and April 4, some officials from the ministry started the re-pegging process without Chombo’s consent prompting him to approach the courts.
High court judge Justice Lucy Mungwari has since granted Chombo an interim relief interdicting the government from re-pegging his farm.
The government was also slapped with costs and ordered not to interfere with his farming activities.