Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Minister to testify in land case

Minister to testify in land case

 Monday, March 08, 2010

 Court Reporter

 A BEATRICE white farmer is refusing to vacate State land claiming that Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Herbert Murerwa and Mashonaland East Governor Aneas Chigwedere assured him he would soon be reallocated the same farm, a Harare court heard last week.

 Testifying in his defence case, Grant Paterson, the director of Roslin Farm in Beatrice, said Minister Murerwa told him that there was a land replanning exercise going on in the ministry and that he would be one of the beneficiaries.

 Grant told the court that he was in constant communication with the minister and that he was prepared to bring him to court as a defence witness without any problems.

 The court also heard that Minister Murerwa wrote a letter to the Attorney General seeking to have the court proceedings stayed until the “replanning” was complete.

 In the purported letter dated March 1, the farmer wrote:

 “I remained on the farm due to assurances by Minister Murerwa and Governor Chigwedere that replanning was going to take place at the farm and I am informed they sent a document to the Attorney General’s Office to stay these proceedings.

 “Chief lands officer (Mr) Tomondo from Marondera visited the farm as part of the replanning exercise. I was even asked to assist with diesel to facilitate the trips to the farm.

 “I have been in constant touch with Minister Murerwa and Governor Chigwedere and on their advice, I stayed on the farm,” he said.

 Chief law officer Mr Tawanda Zvekare, however, dismissed the said discussions with the Minister as irrelevant to the case, despite him being the acquiring authority.

 Mr Zvekare said the Minister was the one who asks the State to prosecute the land cases and that he cannot again reverse his own decisions.

 “Whatever discussions private or personal with the Minister remain private and they have nothing to do with this case,” said Mr Zvekare.

 He maintained that for one to be on the State land, the law requires him or her to have either an offer letter or permit.

 Without any of the two, he said, one cannot claim to be lawfully on the land.

 In a letter purportedly written by the Minister to the AG’s Office on March 1, the request for the stay of prosecution was sought to allow resolution of the case administratively.

 “I write to request for stay of proceedings in the above mentioned case.

 “The reason for the request is that my ministry and the Mashonaland East Provincial Lands Committee are at an advanced stage in resolving the matter through the replanning of Roslin Farm to accommodate both the model A2 beneficiary Mr Hapazari and G Paterson.

 “The draft replanned layout being considered is attached to this letter. Your co-operation is greatly appreciated,” read the document.

 Defence lawyer Mr Misheck Hogwe successfully asked the court to allow the defence to call Minister Murerwa as a witness.

 He said he should come to confirm that indeed he had held meetings with the accused person assuring him of benefiting in the replanning.

 Magistrate Mr Archie Wochiunga deferred the proceedings to March 18 to allow the defence to bring Minister Murerwa to give evidence.

 Paterson admitted in court that he was holding onto the gazetted State land, but claims to have lawful authority to remain on the farm through assurances and advice by the Minister.


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