High Court orders Mohadi out of farm
THE High Court has granted an interim order barring Beitbridge Senator Tambudzani Mohadi and Zanu-PF Matabeleland South provincial chairman Cde Rabelani Choeni from interfering with farming activities at Double O Ranch in Gwanda district.
The ruling by Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nokuthula Moyo follows an urgent chamber application by the owner of the property, Mr George Watson who sought a provisional order interdicting Senator Mohadi, Cde Choeni and two other villagers from interfering with activities at his 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 000ha were allocated to Siyoka villagers.
In papers before the court, Senator Mohadi, Cde Choeni, Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora, Mr Amon Ndou, a local councillor, Zanu-PF Women’s League, Headman Hebert Siyoka and the chairperson of the Gwanda district land committee were cited as the respondents.
Justice Moyo said although the provisional order restrained the respondents from visiting Makhado Farm, it however, shall not operate against them when they act in terms of the law.
“The Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement is hereby restrained and interdicted from authorising or permitting the respondents or their agents from visiting the farm save through compliance with due process as provided for in terms of the Land Acquisition Act,” ruled the judge.
Mr Watson, in his founding affidavit, accused Senator Mohadi of mobilising members of Zanu-PF Women’s League to occupy his farm and claiming its ownership.
The commercial farmer, who is being represented by Mr Nathan Mashayamombe of Mashayamombe and Company Attorneys, said his family’s security has substantially been compromised as result of the respondents’ conduct.
Mr Watson said the “invasion” spelt doom for the future of 49 permanent workers and 60 others who 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 into a viable entity boasting of the only banana plantation in Matabeleland region,” he said
Senator Mohadi, Cde Choeni, Mr Ndou and Headman Siyoka appeared in court as self actors while Ms Rejoice from the Civil Division in the AttorneyGeneral’s Office represented the Government.
The respondents have at least 10 working days to file papers in the event that they want to oppose the confirmation of the provisional order.
In December 2014, 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 Zanu-PF leadership to co-exist with the Watsons and urged the Gwanda land committee to find a solution to the dispute.
In August 2011, Mr Watson and his wife, Ms Elaine de Plooy, were fined for setting dogs on two herd boys they found looking for stray donkeys on the farm.
The Watsons are accused of fencing off a dam built by the District Development Fund (DDF) and refusing neighbouring villagers access.
Senator Tambudzani Mohadi