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Mugabe, wife challenge trio over ‘grabbing’ farm

By Pauline Hurungudo

Former President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace have filed High Court papers challenging an application by three Mazowe farmers evicted from Teviotdale Farm in 2009 to pave way for the ex-first family’s company Gushungo Holdings (Private) Limited.

Robert and Grace Mugabe
Robert and Grace Mugabe

In their application, the three farmers — Adonia Makombe, Sahungwe Hungwe and Nyika Chifamba — cited Mugabe, his wife Grace, Gushungo Holdings, Lands minister Perrance Shiri, Home Affairs minister Cain Mathema, police commissioner-general Godwin Matanga, chief superintendents only identified as Nhubu and Kunene, as respondents.

The three told the court that they grabbed Lot 1A Teviotdale Farm in Mazowe District of Mashonaland Central Province at the height of the land reform programme in 2000 and were given government offer letters in 2009 before being kicked out by police on Mugabe’s orders in 2009.

They are now seeking Mugabe, Grace and their company’s eviction from the property, situated in Mashonaland Central Province and payment of $25 000 in damages to Makombe, $7 000 each to Hungwe and Chifamba.

They are also demanding $3 000 in holding over damages for every month, calculated from the date of the judgment to the date when the former first family vacates the property.

However, the Mugabes have tendered a special plea to the application, demanding the dismissal of the application.

“The first, second and third defendants (Gushungo Holdings, Mugabe and Grace) have raised a special plea in bar on the grounds that the claim is prescribed, no cause of action or legal right of occupation has been shown and there is a misjoinder of the second and third defendants (Mugabe and Grace),” the court heard.

They told the court that a debt or a cause of action prescribes after three years in terms of Section 15 (a) of the Prescription Act and cannot be pursued beyond this
period.

“The plaintiffs by their own admission, were evicted in 2009, their claim should have been brought within three years. It is submitted that the plaintiffs’ claim is prescribed and should be dismissed with costs,” the Mugabes argued.

They further said that the application fails to disclose a cause of action against the defendants.

“It is categorically stated in the declaration that the State owns the land in question and it is the State that evicted them. The defendants can then not be called upon to answer for actions that were performed by the State as the owner of the land,” they said.

High Court judge Jester Charewa, yesterday conducted a pre-trial conference for the matter. DailyNews