A group of Bubi villagers were yesterday forced to withdraw their lawsuit against Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko after the ex-ambassador and businessman’s lawyers successfully argued before the Bulawayo High Court that the farmers had no right to stop their eviction.
This was after Vusa Ncube and 67 others had dragged the government number two to court for allegedly annexing nearly 300 hectares of Shilloh Farm, which shares a boundary with his Mdlawuzo farm in Umguza District.
“A preliminary issue was raised . . . in respect of the locus standi of your clients to institute proceedings of this nature taking into account the gazetted land status of the property in dispute as well as the fact that our client is in possession of an offer letter granting… lawful authority to hold, use and occupy a subdivision of the gazetted land,” the VP’s lawyer Gerald Mlotshwa said in a letter deposed before Justice Moyo yesterday.
“The point was emphasised that your clients (villagers), to the extent that they could even be considered to be settled on the sub-division allocated to our client (a point denied by our client), had in reality no lawful authority to occupy . . . the land.
“From the bundle of documents forming . . . founding papers, it was not even manifest . . . whether or not they were not even on the gazetted land, let alone that portion (of Shilloh) forming a part of our client’s offer letter,” he said.
While emphasising that the parties had agreed that the villagers would withdraw their urgent chamber application by February 23, Mphoko’s Titan Law representatives also stressed the point that Ncube’s application was “riddled with factual and legal errors”.
And as the matter draws to a conclusion or resolve, Mlotshwa has even suggested an inspection in loco to ascertain the true position regarding Mdlawuzo and Shilloh farm’s boundaries.
With Mphoko’s holding lying on the borders of Bubi and Umguza districts, the President Robert Mugabe deputy has been quarrelling with fellow resettled farmers for allegedly encroaching into the adjacent property, in a move that has caused or necessitated the eviction of some of the settlers.
“The writer also suggested that it would be prudent for your clients to withdraw their patently flawed application, and that if this request was acceded to by yours, he would not persist with a claim for costs,” the retail investor and businessman’s lawyers said.
Thus, the villagers were given a “right to pursue the matter if they were not satisfied with the issue of boundaries” and dispute resolution mechanism or settlement, and they should not litigate the matter through the media. Daily News