By Costa Nkomo
THE government has dismissed claims it forcefully evicted Siphosami Malunga from a Nyamandlovu farm, but said the state acquired the 500ha estate from a white farmer during the controversial land reform programme in 2004.
On Monday, Siphosami Malunga, the director of OSISA; Zephaniah Dhlamini, a director at National University of Science and Technology (NUST), and Charles Moyo, received a call from a lands officer in the Lands Ministry informing them the state was repossessing the farm for redistribution to other beneficiaries.
Malunga, is the son of the late nationalist and former senior Zapu official, Sydney Malunga. Commenting on the eviction, Malunga said the government was taking over the farm because of his human rights work at OSISA, which at times is critical of the abuses perpetrated by the Zanu PF government.
“Today, we received a call from Mr. Dodzi at the Lands Office in Bulawayo to tell us that the Zimbabwe government has acquired our privately owned farm and tomorrow (Tuesday) they are coming to peg it and give it to people they have allocated it to,” he said.
“This isn’t about land reform and we will fight it in every way. The farm is wholly privately owned by three black individuals and we only got to see the Government Gazette and acquisition notice issued on 18 December (2020) for the first time today (Monday) after the lands officer gave us the number and told us to go to government printers.”
However, government spokesperson Nick Mangwana dismissed claims by Malunga that the state had illegally repossessed the farm from the three men.
“To say government is taking a Malunga farm is incorrect,” Mangwana said in a statement Tuesday morning.
“In 2004, government acquired a farm that belonged to a Mr Swindells who left for New Zealand then. The title deeds remain in his name. One Eddie Warambwa leased the farm from Swindells until 2010 when he died,” he added.
“In 2017, Sipho Malunga bought a Swindells company for US$33 000. Clearly the 500ha farm had already been acquired by government in 2004, was not part of this transaction. A stand, and not a farm is bought for US$33 000.
“In 2010 @RModiByoSouth bought the farm at an auction for US$250 000 as part of the Warambwa Estate debt but discovered it was already state land and abandoned the purchase. A purported purchase in 2017 does not dislodge government acquisition in 2004.”
@RModiByoSouth is the Twitter handle of Industry Deputy Minister Raj Modi.