Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

***The views expressed in the articles published on this website DO NOT necessarily express the views of the Commercial Farmers' Union.***

Judge refuses to list farms

Judge refuses to list farms

HENDRICKS CHIZHANJE | 19 February, 2012 00:58

A Zimbabwean judge has rejected a request by exiled Movement for Democratic 
Change (MDC) treasurer Roy Bennett to disclose the number of farms he owns 
in court.

Bennett’s lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, had asked high court judge Chinembiri 
Bhunu to disclose all the farms that he had laid claim to over the past 10 
years when President Robert Mugabe’s previous administration began its 
violent land seizures.

The request was made to enable Bennett to plead to the judge’s $1-million 
defamation suit against the former Chimanimani legislator.

Mtetwa asked Bhunu to reveal the name and location of the current farms that 
he occupies, the duration of occupation of each farm, and whether previous 
farm owners who were dispossessed of their farms were fully compensated.

Bhunu is claiming $1-million from Bennett for alleged defamation arising 
from an interview with the Guardian newspaper (United Kingdom) before his 
acquittal on insurgency charges.

Bhunu, who presided over Bennett’s trial, says Bennett told Guardian 
reporter, David Smith, that he would not get a fair trial because Bhunu was 
given a farm by the Zanu-PF administration and would therefore be biased in 
favour of the state.

But in response to Mtetwa’s request for an inventory of his farms, Bhunu, 
through his lawyers Chikumbirike and Associates Legal Practitioners, refused 
to respond to the request and insisted that the onus is on the former 
commercial farmer to prove his claims.

“The defendant (Bennett) professes knowledge of the information requested. 
The information requested is therefore not necessary to enable the defendant 
to plead,” reads the response to Bennett’s request for further particulars.

In December 2010, the Sunday Times revealed that Bhunu was involved in a 
farm ownership dispute with a University of Zimbabwe lecturer, Professor 
Lovemore Gwanzura, in a saga that exposed the often-chaotic manner in which 
the country’s land grab exercise was implemented.

Court papers showed that both Bhunu and Gwanzura claimed ownership of 
Dasktop Subdivision 4 farm in Mashonaland East province.

The court documents also suggested that Bhunu had the pick of a number of 
alternative properties before finally settling for Dasktop farm.

Bennett, whose farm was seized, is now living in exile after giving up on 
his deputy ministerial post.

Although he was acquitted of the terrorism charges, state prosecutors have 
appealed against the verdict to the supreme court.


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