Ex-Zanu PF leader’s farm saga haunts govt

By Tendai Kamhungira

A trust for the late Ndabaningi Sithole is seeking a court order declaring the acquisition of the politician’s Chulu Farm illegal, null and void. 

The late Ndabaningi Sithole
The late Ndabaningi Sithole

This is after it filed a High Court application demanding compensation for the nationalist’s farm, which was compulsorily acquired by government in 1993.

The application comes at a time President Emmerson Mnangagwa has promised his government would compensate former white commercial farmers who lost their land during the country’s bloody land reform programme that took place in the early 2000s.

In the application, yet to be finalised by the High Court, but filed at least two years ago, the Freedom Farm Trust cited Lands minister, (now headed by Perrance Shiri), Local Government minister, (now under July Moyo’s purview), the Harare City Council and the master of the High Court as respondents.

According to court papers, the Trust was formed to hold property including land, houses, investment and all intellectual properties owned by the late Sithole.

“During his lifetime, the late reverend Ndabaningi Sithole owned Subdivision ‘C’ of Subdivision ‘A’ of the farm ‘The Rest’ also known as Chulu Farm in the outskirts of Harare.

“Sometime in 1993, the government of Zimbabwe sought to compulsorily acquire Chulu Farm on the basis that the late . . . Sithole had resettled landless Zimbabwean thereon.

“The compulsory acquisition was done for purposes of donating the land to the ministry of Local Government Rural and Urban Development. This ministry would give the land to the third defendant (Local Government minister),” the court heard.

Following the acquisition of the land, the government issued a notice in October 1993, for people to evacuate Chulu Farm.

Since the eviction of the people, the land has been lying idle, the court heard.

“Despite the purported compulsory acquisition of the Chulu Farm by the first and second defendant (Lands and Local Government minister) no compensation was paid to the late reverend Ndabaningi Sithole. A compulsory acquisition of land without payment of compensation is illegal, null and void and is tantamount to theft and robbery.

“The value of compensation for both land and improvements on the land is $140 000 000. Because the late reverend … Sithole was a black indigenous Zimbabwean he is entitled to full compensation for both the land and improvements in terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” the court heard.

The Trust is now seeking an order for the acquisition of the farm to be declared illegal, null and void and be declared property of the estate late Sithole.

In its response to the summons, however, the Lands ministry has said the acquisition of the farm was lawful and remains valid.

“Plaintiff’s compensation figure of $140 million is not supported by any quantified assessment.

“It is a thump suck figure which cannot be accepted by defendant or the court. Second defendant’s valuers will provide a properly assessed compensation figure.

“It is not true that the farm is lying idle. Plaintiff would have saved itself costs by engaging first and second defendants for a settlement first before approaching the courts,” the court was told.

The matter is still to be determined by the High Court. Daily News