Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Illegal settlers threaten Chipinge magistrate

Illegal settlers threaten Chipinge magistrate

Monday, 26 April 2010 11:23

A Chipinge magistrate had to flee for dear life recently after a group of illegal settlers led by Zanu PF officials besieged the court building threatening to assault him for ordering their eviction from an estate they invaded eight years ago. Court officials told The Standard that Thomas Masendeke sneaked through the back door as over 300 people, singing revolutionary songs, besieged the court building baying for his blood.

The people were not happy with Masendeke’s ruling that ordered them off the Makandi Coffee Estates which they invaded during the chaotic land reform programme which started in 2000.

The illegal settlers, mostly Zanu PF supporters, do not have any offer letters for the farm which is 15 kilometres out of Chipinge town.

“If he had not been alerted in advance he would have been killed,” said one court official who witnessed the mob in action.

“They claimed he was an MDC activist because he ruled against sons and daughters of the revolution.”
From the court building, the group marched to the district administrator (DA)’s office where they also sang and danced, demanding his immediate resignation.

The officials said the group was reportedly led by former Zanu PF provincial youth chairperson Enock Porusingazi’s campaign manager Simon Mapfumo.

Efforts to get a comment from Mapfumo last week were fruitless.

Masendeke confirmed that he fled after the mob descended on the courts but refused to give more details.

“Yes, that happened but as you know I can’t talk to you because I am bound by the State Secrecy Act,” he said.

Masendeke has since resumed his duties.

Chipinge DA, a Mandeta also confirmed the incident but refused to comment.

Makandi Estates – which produces coffee and bananas mainly for export – is run by a German investor and is protected under the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA).

Its general manager Brandon Scott confirmed that over 300 squatters had been ordered off the farm but said he could not comment further as the owner, a Von Pezold, had not given him a go ahead to do so.

Both Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and his deputy Jessie Majome were not available for comment last week.

This is not the first time that investments protected under BIPPA have been wantonly seized by land invaders.

Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Tanzania former army General Edzai Chimonyo, invaded a Malaysian and Dutch farming entity, Matanuska, which is protected under BIPPA.

Chimonyo said he was awarded the property in 2006 under the land reform programme.



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