White farmer sues Mo­hadi

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Mashudu Net­sianda Se­nior Court Re­porter

A WHITE com­mer­cial farmer has taken Beit­bridge Se­na­tor Tam­budzani Mo­hadi and Zanu-PF Mata­bele­land South provin­cial chair­per­son Ra­belani Choeni to court in row over a farm.

Mr Ge­orge Wat­son, the owner of Dou­ble O Ranch in Gwanda district, has filed an ur­gent cham­ber ap­pli­ca­tion at the Bu­l­awayo High Court seek­ing an or­der in­ter­dict­ing Se­na­tor Mo­hadi, Choeni and two other vil­lagers from in­ter­fer­ing with his ac­tiv­i­ties at the farm also known as the re­main­ing ex­tent of Makhado Ranch.

Mr Wat­son, who sur­vived ini­tial evic­tion at­tempts in 2003, has been locked in a pro­tracted bat­tle with lo­cal politi­cians who ac­cused him of fail­ing to co-ex­ist with the com­mu­nity.

The farm, which cov­ers 10 000 hectares, was pre­vi­ously di­vided into two sec­tions with Mr Wat­son and his mother, Mrs Pax­otius Wat­son re­main­ing with 2 000 ha while 8 000 ha were al­lo­cated to Siyoka vil­lagers.

The lat­est twist to the farm saga comes two years after Vice Pres­i­dent Phelekezela Mphoko vis­ited the farm to ac­quaint him­self with ba­nana farm­ing be­cause he wanted it repli­cated in Mata­bele­land North.

Dur­ing the visit, the Vice-Pres­i­dent told the lo­cal ZanuPF lead­er­ship to co-ex­ist with the Wat­sons.

In papers be­fore the court, Mr Wat­son cited Se­na­tor Mo­hadi, Choeni, Amon Ndou, a lo­cal coun­cil­lor, He­bert Siyoka, a lo­cal head­man as well as the chair­per­son of the Gwanda district land com­mit­tee, as the re­spon­dents.

In his found­ing af­fi­davit, Mr Wat­son ar­gued that he was the right­ful owner of the 2 000 hectares of the dis­puted land after the Gov­ern­ment set aside 8 000 hectares as a re­serve graz­ing area for vil­lagers in Beit­bridge West.

Mr Wat­son, who runs a flour­ish­ing ba­nana plan­ta­tion, said he was pushed out of the prop­erty in 2001 dur­ing the land re­form pro­gramme and re­turned in 2003 after suc­cess­fully pre­sent­ing his case to the Gov­ern­ment which sub­se­quently al­lo­cated him 2 000 hectares.

“On 27 Au­gust 2016, Se­na­tor Mo­hadi, Choeni, Siyoka, Ndou and a group of at least 10 peo­ple con­fronted my se­cu­rity of­fi­cer at the en­trance of the farm and de­manded ac­cess into the farm with the in­ten­tion to in­spect it. Their visit was un­so­licited and no clear ex­pla­na­tion was given as so why they in­tended to in­spect it,” said Mr Wat­son.

He claimed that Se­na­tor Mo­hadi, Choeni, Ndou and some vil­lagers last week stormed his mother’s homestead and an­nounced that they had taken over the prop­erty.

“I was away in Chiredzi with my fam­ily when the re­spon­dents came. My 70-year-old mother and some work­ers were at the farm and they phys­i­cally pushed my mother aside and en­tered our house where they made a list of all our prop­erty and in­structed that noth­ing should be re­moved since ev­ery­thing now be­longed to the Zanu-PF Women’s League,” said Mr Wat­son.

He said Choeni, Ndou and Siyoka also de­manded to search the homestead un­der the pre­text that they were look­ing for firearms.

The re­spon­dents al­legedly took an in­ven­tory of all the items in the homestead without a search war­rant or doc­u­ment au­tho­ris­ing them to con­duct the search.

Mr Wat­son said Se­na­tor Mo­hadi has de­ployed per­son­nel to con­stantly mon­i­tor and su­per­vise sales and farm­ing ac­tiv­i­ties at the farm.

“The re­spon­dents are pub­lic of­fi­cials and hold fairly high po­si­tions in ei­ther the Gov­ern­ment or the rul­ing Zanu-PF and their con­duct is tan­ta­mount to self-help since none of them is an ac­quir­ing au­thor­ity with pow­ers to act in such a man­ner,” he said.

Mr Wat­son, who is be­ing rep­re­sented by Mashayamombe and Com­pany At­tor­neys, said his fam­ily’s se­cu­rity has sub­stan­tially been com­pro­mised as re­sult of the re­spon­dents’ con­duct.

He said in 2011, he se­cured a $650 000 loan from the Re­serve Bank of Zim­babwe and de­vel­oped the farm to start his thriv­ing ba­nana plan­ta­tion with 60 000 plants.

He fur­ther claimed that the “in­va­sion” spelt doom for the fu­ture of 49 per­ma­nent work­ers and 60 others em­ployed on sea­sonal ba­sis. “I have con­sid­er­ably in­vested in the farm mech­a­ni­sa­tion and the farm­ing project has im­mense ben­e­fits to the lo­cal Siyoka com­mu­nity. I have over the years been able to trans­form the farm through in­di­vid­ual and for­eign in­vest­ments to be a vi­able en­tity boast­ing of the only ba­nana plan­ta­tion in the Mata­bele­land re­gion,” Mr Wat­son said.

In Au­gust 2011, Mr Wat­son and his wife, Ms Elaine de Plooy, were fined for set­ting dogs on two herd­boys they found look­ing for stray don­keys on the farm. — @ mash­nets

Se­na­tor Tam­budzani Mo­hadi

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