Esidakeni farm row heads to the High Court

Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) deputy director-general Gatsha Mazithulela has been accused of forcibly grabbing part of  Kershelmar Farm in Nyamandlovu and parcelling it out to his subordinates.

This is contained in an affidavit by Zephaniah Dlamini one of the directors of the farm.

His other business partners are Open Society of Southern Africa (OSISA) director Siphosami Malunga and Charles Moyo.

The trio through Webb, Low and Barry as well as Ben Baron and Partners on Monday approachedthe Bulawayo High Court seeking an order to stop the land grab.

The application cites Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Settlements, Chief Lands Officer for Matabeleland North, Registrar of Deeds, Gatsha Mazithulela, Dumisani Madzivanyati, Reason Mpofu and Minister of State for Matabeleland North as respondents. 

“The relief that we seek is that the Notice of Acquisition of Agricultural Land under Section 72 (2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe being General Notice 3042 of 2020 relating to the following pieces of land held under the following Deeds of Title,” read the application.

“Deed of Transfer 1980/90 registered in the name of Keshelmar Farms (Pvt) Ltd in respect of certain pieces of land situated in the district of Nyamandlovu being subdivision A of subdivision B of Umguza Block, measuring 195.8095 hectares and another measuring 358.1768 hectares be declared null and void for want of compliance with provisions of Section 72 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.”

Dhlamini in his affidavit details how Mazithulela a former National University and Science and Technology (Nust) Pro Vice Chancellor, tried to force himself into the ownership structure of the farm by trying to elbow out Malunga whom he accused of being an anti-government critic.

“It, therefore, did not surprise me that sometime in December 2019, fourth respondent Gatsha Mazithulela, who was then the Pro-Vice Chancellor at Nust, and a work colleague approached me and asked to be included in the Esikadeni farm project. The untenable request that he made still required that I run it by fellow shareholders and directors. I did and they took the position that there was no room for additional shareholders,” Dhlamini says.

“Immediately thereafter, Gatsha (Mazithulela) joined the CIO as the deputy director-general. In February 2020, I met Gatsha and the discussion came up again. The conversation, however, quickly became ominous. He raised the issue of the second applicant (Malunga), himself a son of a decorated national hero. He suggested that he had become a critic of the government and claimed that association with him imperilled our interests. He advised me that when he joined the CIO, he had found the second applicant’s file containing what he termed anti-government activities.”

Mazithulela is said to have threatened warned Dhlamini that the farm was at risk of being taken over by the government if Malunga did not tone down his criticism of the government.

“He (Mazithulela) said our farm was at risk of acquisition if Malung did not tone down his anti-government rhetoric. He claimed that he could save the farm if we managed to remove the second applicant from being a shareholder and a director. He was to replace him. I flatly told him that this would not happen,” said Dhlamini in his application.

“I relayed these disturbing developments to second applicant (Malunga) who confronted Gatsha (Mazithulela). The result of that was the WhatsApp correspondence addressed to me by Gatsha which I attach hereto and mark as G2 in both its original and translated forms.”

On Christmas last year, Dhlamini says he received a telephone call from Mazithulela informing him that the farm had been acquired by the state.

“I was obviously concerned by the level of Gatsha’s interest in matters that pertain to the farm. I was particularly perplexed that Gatsha seemed to know more about the farm than us the owners,” the application reads.

“Not only did Gatsha advise on the acquisition of the farm, he further went on to tell me that I and Moyo were in peril of being arrested on that very day because according to him, we had fraudulently acquired the shares in fourth applicant.”

Dhlamini further notes that suspected state security officials made several visits to the farm including Senior Zanu PF official Obert Mpofu.

This, Dhlamini, argues was an abuse of state power to force them out of their property.

“It has now come to our attention that the officers from the CIO have been allocated portions of the farm. We have, despite diligent search, not managed to establish who these officers are. When one considers the centrality of the role of Gatsha, it is clear that he has caused the acquisition of the farm and has effectively parcelled it out to his subordinates. Whether those are genuine allocations or simply window dressing measures as of now is unknown,” the application reads.

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