Land row: Zhuwao loses to Sports minister Coventry

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By Mary Taruvinga

HIGH Court judge Philda Muzofa has dismissed a lawsuit filed against Sports Minister Kirsty Coventry by Robert Zhuwao, nephew to late former president Robert Mugabe.

Zhuwao was accusing the minister of snatching part of his Cockington Farm in Zvimba.

In June this year, Justice Tawanda Chitapi  granted Coventry full rights in Subdivision 4 of Cockington farm following an application for a spoliation order that had been filed by Zhuwao seeking to dispose of her.

Zhuwao had cited Coventry, her husband Tyrone Seward and Lands and Agriculture minister Anxious Masuka as respondents seeking a spoliation order to be restored full possession of Subdivision 1 which the sports minister has allegedly encroached into but this backfired after he was slapped with costs.

He claimed he had been in possession, control and occupation of Subdivision 1 of Cockington Farm, Zvimba since 2004.

However, Coventry disputed the facts in her notice of opposition and argued that the piece of land in question was actually occupied by another party and not Zhuwao.

“After reading documents filed of record and hearing counsel, it is ordered that the application is dismissed with costs on a higher scale,” reads an order passed by Justice Philda Muzofa on September 4.

Coventry argued that Zhuwao had connived with workers from neighbouring farms who had taken the fictitious role of farm manager and were corroborating the false narrative of spoliation.

It was her argument that Zhuwao was never in fact in occupation of the piece of land.

“The reality of the matter is that the applicant is not in occupation. He has never been in occupation and has forced his chickens on the farm so that he can have leverage against the government in respect of the offer letter whose withdrawal he is challenging,” said the minister.

According to court papers, on April 26 last year the ministry issued Zhuwao a notice of intention to withdraw the land offer because he had abandoned the plot since 2011.

Zhuwao responded to the intention to withdraw on April 30 but on October 16, without responding to his letter, the ministry notified him of the immediate withdrawal of the land offer.

In January this year, Zhuwao then challenged the withdrawal and the matter is still pending at the High Court.

In June, Coventry also claimed rights to the farm prompting Zhuwao to seek a spoliation order which was subsequently struck off on a preliminary point by the High Court.

However, Zhuwao claimed Coventry continues to interfere with his possession and sent two unidentified individuals to measure all buildings intending to undertake renovations and clear the farmyard.

Zhuwao’s lawyers then engaged Coventry and Seward to confine their activities to Subdivision 4 of Cockington Farm which they are entitled to, but no response came.

The court heard on August 20, some security guards blocked Zhuwao’s employees access to the farm saying they were complying with Coventry’s directive.

The following day, one of Zhuwao’s guards Clive Phiri was blocked from delivering 2 037 chicks at the farm and had to use another entrance and they suffered mortalities because of the delays.