Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Mugabe supporters grab university land

Mugabe supporters grab university land

Kudzai Mashininga
16 January 2011
Issue: 0069

Three supporters of President Robert Mugabe have moved to grab huge chunks
of land belonging to a state-run university in a matter that has since
spilled into the courts. This comes a decade after the African dictator
launched a ruinous agrarian reform exercise.

The three Mugabe loyalists – Boas Urayayi (a soldier), Elikanah Mtshanga and
Munashe Gurumani – claim the government allocated them up to 950 hectares of
land belonging to Great Zimbabwe University.

The institution is located in the country’s oldest town, Masvingo, known as
Fort Victoria before Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain in 1980. Each of
the three claimants is demanding slightly more than 300 hectares of the

But the institution of higher learning maintains that legally the disputed
land belongs to it.

In an interview on Tuesday, Great Zimbabwe University Vice-chancellor
Professor Obert Maravanyika told University World News that its case with
Urayayi was the only one due in court this week, but was cancelled when
government averted the take-over by allocating the soldier alternative land.

“We went to court yesterday, but Urayayi signed affidavits to withdraw the
claims after government allocated him alternative land. This is a dynamic
situation. Some of the other people who are coming to claim the land are
saying the land used to belong to them. That is the challenge we have here,”
Maravanyika said.

In a separate interview, Gurumani claimed he would do everything in his
power to take over the land and described the university as an “illegal
settler” on his property. The third claimant, Mtshanga, could not be reached
for comment.

In 2000 Mugabe launched a populist and bloody campaign to take over
white-owned farms in Zimbabwe, at a time when his now 31-year-old
uninterrupted rule faced its fiercest threat – the formation of the (then)
opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

In the 2008 general elections, which saw Mugabe’s agents murdering hundreds
of opposition members, the ZANU-PF leader was defeated by Tsvangirai but
declined to cede power, necessitating the formation of a unity government in
which Mugabe remains a domineering president with Tsvangirai as prime

The land grabs and state-sponsored violence prompted sanctions from the
European Union, the US and Australia, with Sydney going a step further by
deporting the children of those on its sanctions list studying at its
universities. The most notable of these were the children of Police
Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri, and the Governor of the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe, Gideon Gono.

Mugabe’s party adopted new hardline resolutions at its conference last
December, with a resolution for further land grabs, which may have
influenced a new wave of attempts to take over properties, including the
university property.

The party also resolved that the Zimbabwe government would take
counter-measures against foreign companies, institutions and entities whose
home countries maintain sanctions against Mugabe and his inner cabal – a
move that threatens the operations of international companies operating in
the country including BP, Total, Chevron, Barclays Bank, Standard Chartered
Bank and platinum giant Zimplats.

The party said the government should also expel envoys promoting the “West’s
regime change agenda” and interfering in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe,
and should deregister NGOs allegedly acting as “conduits of regime change”.

Last week Attorney General Johannes Tomana – who has also been blacklisted
by the EU and US for political persecution of dissenting voices through
prosecution on trumped-up charges – announced the setting up of a six-member
commission of enquiry to look into “suspected constitutional infringement
bordering on conspiracy by several Zimbabweans arising from WikiLeaks

The state-run Herald newspaper, a mouthpiece for Mugabe’s party, reported
that the prime minister is among the suspects.


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