Kasukuwere in spirited fight to save Mazowe farm from govt seizure

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By Mary Taruvinga

EXILED former minister Saviour Kasukuwere has filed an urgent chamber application with the High Court challenging Lands Minister Perrance Shiri’s decision to withdraw his offer letter for his Mazowe farm without giving him a chance to file a response.

Kasukuwere said he was shocked to learn that a withdrawal letter had been served at his Concorpia Farm in Mazowe at a time he was failing to submit his answering affidavit due to the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown.

The ex-legislator and businessman said he risked suffering irreparable harm if his farm was seized considering that there was a lot of production at the moment.

He also said it was unreasonable of government to take his productive farm leaving other farms which were lying idle around the country.

“This is an urgent chamber for interim relief that pending the return date of this matter, the respondent be interdicted from interfering with my farming operations at remainder of Concorpia Farm in the Mazowe District of Mashonaland Central province measuring approximately 535,94 hectares,” he said through his lawyers.

“I also seek an interim order that pending the return date, the respondent shall not enforce the withdrawal of the offer letter in my favour or do anything to interfere with my farming operations on the farm.”

Kasukuwere said he was served with a notice to withdraw the offer letter by the minister on January 22 this year.

He was told the reason for withdrawal would be for downsizing for re-planning purposes.

He responded five days later making detailed representations to the minister through his lawyers.

The exiled minister challenged the laid down basis for withdrawal and also requested information regarding “why downsizing for re-planning process was directed at his farm, which is fully operational as opposed to other farms which are lying idle around the country”.

Kasukuwere said the minister made it clear that he was not going to avail information the former Mount Darwin lawmaker had requested.

He then filed another application for a declarator saying what Shiri was doing was illegal and at this time the offer letter was yet to be withdrawn.

Kasukuwere said he had prepared his answering affidavit but failed to file due to the current Covid-19 lockdown.

However, to his surprise, the minister went on to withdraw his offer letter.

The letter was served at his farm on March 25.

He said the minister has no powers to withdraw his offer letter adding that the power is reposed in the President in terms of the Land Commission Act.

“Zimbabwe is facing an acute maize shortage. My farm is currently being used to produce commercial maize and seed maize. I, through the farm, am actively contributing to the national seed bank and the grain reserves.

“It is common cause that the grain shortage has been caused in part by the underutilisation of land all around the country,” he said.

Kasukuwere added, “The decision to withdraw the offer letter is not substantively fair. It was not done for legitimate purpose.

“The withdrawal of the offer letter by the respondent makes a mockery of the ideal of security of tenure espoused by the Constitution. The respondent has elected to ride roughshod over the provisions of the Constitution.”

He begged the court to look into his application with urgency before he lost occupation of the farm.

Kasukuwere said if evicted he has nowhere to put all the farming implements.

He said he has running contracts in terms of which he must deliver seed and grain to various organisations.

The matter is yet to be heard.