Minister sucked into farm grab storm

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By Mary Taruvinga

Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister, Ellen Gwaradzimba has been sucked into a fresh farm invasion saga involving a traditional chief and a farmer.

A local chief, Kibben Bvirindi, is alleged to have recently invaded Odzi Farm and forcibly evicted the property owner, Phillip Valentine with Gwarazimba’s blessing.

Valentine has now approached the High Court seeking to save his farm.

He filed an urgent chamber application seeking an order to have Bvirindi held in contempt since he invaded his farm against a court order barring him from interfering with his property.

It is his submissions that Bvirindi stormed his farm on November 20, 2019 accompanied by a group of people who broke locks to the gates and main house, claiming ownership.

“I never had problems since then until November 20, 2019 around 4pm when the first respondent (Bvirindi) came again with a group of people who claimed to have come from the office of the Minister of State for Manicaland Province … Ellen Gwaradzimba and stormed the farm by breaking the locks to the farm gate of my farm at Odzi Farm and gained entry onto the farm and went to my house and broke keys to my house and declared that the first respondent was now the new owner of the house and the property in the house as well as the farm,” Valentine said.

He said a similar incident took place in October 2016.

He accused Bvirindi of having stormed his farm and forcibly evicted him from the property without a court order.

Valentine then petitioned the High Court over the invasion and Bvirindi was ordered to vacate the property together with his co-invaders.

However, Valentine said after some time, Bvirindi came back to the farm claiming he had garnered support of the political leadership of the “ruling party”.

He told court Bvirindi also claimed he was a traditional chief and could not live without a farm.

“He said the Minister of State had told him to stay put, even if he is served with High Court papers this time around as the High Court did not go to the war of liberation,” Valentine said.

The embattled farmer said his efforts to seek the police intervention failed to yield any results as the law enforcement agents took a position they were not going to involve themselves in matters involving the chief and the minister.

Cited as respondents in the application are Bvirindi, Police Inspector Kadoro, who is the Officer-In-Charge for Odzi Police Station; Commissioner General of Police, Godwin Matanga and Gwaradzimba.

The case is yet to be heard.