Former ZPRA freedom fighters have vowed to repossess their properties which were seized by the government starting with Magnet House which currently houses the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) offices.
Magnet House, Kudu Motors, Hampton Farm, Ascot Farm, Nest egg farm, Woodyglen Farm, Mbalabala Garage, Nyamandlovu Farm, Snake Park and Salisbury Motel in Harare, are some of the properties that ZIPRA owned through their investment vehicle, Nitram Investments Private Limited.
Nitram was formed after independence by ZIPRA cadres who contributed $50 each from their demobilisation payout and managed to purchase 52 properties across the country to cater for their welfare.
The worth of these properties now runs into billions of dollars but was seized by the government under the Unlawful Organisation Act in 1982 (Caveat No. 15 of 82) and transferred in January 1987 to the President of Zimbabwe (under No. 56 of 87).
Since the 1980s, ZIPRA has been calling on the government to release their properties with no success.
Last month, Justice Minister, Ziyambi Ziyambi said the government would not return these properties, as ZAPU had joined hands with Zanu to become Zanu PF in 1987.
But Nitram chairman, John Gazi has vowed that ZIPRA members would as of this month, occupy Magnet House as part of their immediate programme to force the government to release their properties.
“First of all, here is a quick lesson, government ministers such as Ziyambi must know there is a difference between ZAPU and Nitram. ZAPU is a political party, which has nothing to do with the business of Nitram. Those properties were bought by Nitram financed by members of ZIPRA, the military wing,” he said at a recent meeting with ZIPRA veterans to discuss the matter.
Gazi noted that Nitram had two founding directors, now both late – Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo and Isaac Nyathi while their secretary was Martin Ralph Adies.
“Nitram was formed on July 8, 1980. Martin’s first name spelt backwards was used to become Nitram. If the government wants to deal with ZAPU they can do so but we as ex ZIPRA war vets are concerned over Nitram properties, which include the Magnet House. It is clearly written so under Nitram and is not a Zapu property,” he emphasised.
The chairman said ZIPRA war vets association would move into the ground floor of Magnet House, which is currently occupied by the Ministry of Youth.
“We have proposed that government moves the Ministry of Youth to Mhlahlandlela Complex, where there are idle, misused and abused government offices, we will not disturb the CIO but it will be better if they open our offices. This is very possible and we are not dreaming.
“We are occupying Magnet House and if they arrest us, comrades you will raise the bail money because we are moving into our offices. We don’t have venues to hold our meetings and pay for accommodation yet we have own properties. For our next meeting, we meet at Magnet House to discuss what the management committee would give us a report back on our properties,” he said.
Gazi explained that their properties were seized in 1982 after former President Robert Mugabe used the Unlawful Organisation Act under Caveat number 15 of 82.
“Nitram properties were taken and stamped as Caveat in the title deeds of all our 52 properties and as we were working on the Unity Accord, Mugabe transferred the properties to the President of Zimbabwe number 56 of 87 by the liquidator – they now liquidated our properties.
“Nyamandlovu Farm was sold to a white person – R Tattol on September 1, 1988, as No. 3201 of 88, after the Unity Accord. Hampton Farm was filled with officers of the Zimbabwe National Army, the CIO, Zimbabwe Republic Police and others who are favoured in the Mugabe system. Later it was claimed Chief Sogwala asked for land for his people who are now staying at our farm. All this happened since title deeds were cancelled.”
He went on to say: “If you go to the title deeds council, you find our title deeds are there but were liquidated, others sold to certain individuals but we continue following up on the 52 properties. For instance, Snake Park is now a location in Harare, if we are to be refunded we want an equal, valuable and strategic property. Returning our properties is not a favour, it is a right and now they run into billions of dollars.”
Gazi said the next step of action was to have the Caveat cancelled and secondly spell out that the Unlawful Organisations Act was between Zanu and ZAPU, which are political entities.
“ZIPRA cannot be classified as unlawful because if it had been, we wouldn’t be seeing ZIPRA cadres become colonels, captains or generals in the army or become officials in government. Nitram remains a legal entity and up to now it remains registered at the deeds office,” he noted.