By Mary Taruvinga
FORMER Cabinet Minister, Jonathan Moyo is breathing fire after Lands Minister, Perrance Shiri grabbed his Mazowe farm in Mashonaland Central under unclear circumstances.
In High Court papers, Moyo, through his lawyers, says he was last December served with a withdrawal of his offer letter as he prepared for the 2019/20 farming season.
Moyo, who went into exile following then President Robert Mugabe’s ouster November 2017, says the withdrawal of the offer letter by Shiri was politically motivated and has approached the High Court seeking reversal of the minister’s decision.
“This application is brought in terms of section 3 (1) (a) of the Administrative Justice Act and seeks a review and the concomitant setting aside of respondent’s decision to withdraw my offer letter in respect of remainder of Patterson Farm which is 622 9125 hectares in extent,” he says.
“It also seeks the setting aside of respondent’s directive to us to cease occupation and use of the farm. The withdrawal of the offer letter is politically motivated, constitutes an abuse of power and is accordingly unlawful.
“The decision implicates a breach of administrative law standards in that it is substantively unreasonable in the extreme and constitutes state sanctioned theft.”
Moyo said he acquired the farm from the State through a transparent process and government had not paid him back money it took from him in terms of the agreement concluded between the parties.
He also said he was not given an opportunity to deal with the conclusion made by Shiri after the Lands Minister informed him his offer letter was to be withdrawn.
According to his application, Moyo had indicated that he was willing to downsize the farm for other land beneficiaries but the offer letter was withdrawn despite his pleas.
Shiri also accused the ex-Zanu PF top official of under-utilising the land, but Moyo claims he is one of the best farmers in Zimbabwe.
“The withdrawal of the offer letter is based on material falsehoods of a concocted alleged under-utilisation 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. No account was made, in breach of my proprietary rights, to take into account the close to a million dollars investment that I have sunk into the farming project.
“I draw attention to the fact that the purported withdrawal comes right in the middle of the farming season I had made serious investments totalling around $120 000.
“It is one of the most productive farms in both the region and the country. Valuation of the property by Dawn Properties at the insistence of the government shows that value of the farm has shot up to some over US$723 000 arising out of our investment,” he submitted.
He added: “For the 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 investments as a family.”
Moyo said he practices animal husbandry and cropping and the farm has 120 herd of cattle and 55 hectares of maize, 35 hectares of soya bean and five hectares of sunflower.
The vocal politician said he acquired the farm in 2001 but failed to carry out any meaningful operations until 2016.
“There is need that I revisit the process that has led to his withdrawal. I will do so in some detail. The farm in question was offered to me on November 30 2001 in terms of the written offer. I was made to understand at that stage that the farm had been acquired by government from its former owner a Mr Tom Bailey.”
He said in terms of that provision, on 29 April 2002, the then Land Minister revealed government was offering the farm for $6 million which was at the time equivalent to some US$105 401. 84.
“As a family we decided that this was going to be a worthy investment and we accordingly accepted the offer. Government could however not accept payment from a personal account and I had to make arrangements with CBZ to generate payment on my behalf in terms of a facility that we concluded,” he said.
Moyo also said the payment was made on July 27 2002 and went on to attach supporting documents to his claims.
According to him, the farm was a dilapidated forestry with no electricity and his family installed electricity adding that the process was costly.
He said he tried to process the transfer of the farm’s name into his own but failed following a political fallout in Zanu PF commonly referred to as the Tsholotsho Declaration which led to his expulsion from the ruling party, Zanu PF in 2005.
He then became an independent MP between 2005 and 2013 but there was no progress in registering the farm under his name until after re-joining Zanu-PF in 2015 and he was now a Cabinet Minister.
Moyo said unfortunately before he could change the farm’s title deeds, there was a military coup in November 2017 and he fled into exile, but his wife had continued running operations at farm.
In May last year, government officials including State security agents from Mashonaland Central’s Joint Operations Command (JOC) visited the farm before harassing and intimidating family members and employees .
Moyo said there was bad blood between him and Shiri who once caused publication of an article labelling him a liberation war deserter with links to an outfit aligned to Rhodesian security services.
“I do not trust he can deal impartially with issues that relate to me,” he said.