Farmer gets back land:

The Manica Post - - Front Page - Sa­muel Kadun­gure Se­nior Reporter

THE Min­istry of Lands, Agri­cul­ture and Ru­ral Re­set­tle­ment is over­see­ing an or­derly tran­si­tion to le­gally re­in­state white com­mer­cial farmer Mr Rob Smart at Les­bury Farm in Head­lands while en­sur­ing re­al­lo­ca­tion of the three in­cum­bents to other farms.

Mr Smart (71) was re­moved from Les­bury Farm in June 2017 fol­low­ing a High Court order to pave way for its sub­di­vi­sion and al­lo­ca­tion to Bishop Trevor Man­hanga, Mr David Nyakonda and Chief Tandi (Wil­liam Samhungu).

The evic­tion has since been re­versed as proof of re­spect­ing agri­cul­tural prop­erty rights by Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa’s Gov­ern­ment.

Mr Smart’s evic­tion had neg­a­tively im­pacted on the liveli­hood of hun­dreds of peo­ple and it was also con­sid­ered that he had of­fered 7 000ha for re­set­tle­ment and re­tained 700ha which has 120ha arable.

Mr Smart was last Thurs­day es­corted to the farm by Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials to a glo­ri­ous re­cep­tion by farm work­ers and peas­ant farm­ers who fought from his cor­ner to have the evic­tion halted.

They op­posed Mr Smart’s evic­tion say­ing he was sup­port­ive to the com­mu­nity and was born and bred at that farm.

Bishop Man­hanga, Chief Tandi and Mr Nyakonda are co-op­er­at­ing and have started re­mov­ing their be­long­ings to pave way for Mr Smart’s re­turn.

Man­i­ca­land act­ing Chief Lands Of­fi­cer Mr Clif­ford Mukoyi con­firmed Mr Smart’s re­in­state­ment on Wed­nes­day.

“He (Smart) is com­ing back. The evic­tion was not done prop­erly. The in­cum­bents will be al­lo­cated other farms ei­ther in Makoni or other re­gions of Man­i­ca­land,” said Mr Mukoyi, who is also the sec­re­tary to the pro­vin­cial lands com­mit­tee that deals with all land is­sues, and headed by the Min­is­ter of State for Pro­vin­cial Af­fairs Cde Mon­ica Mutsvangwa.

“We are cur­rently seized with the process to reg­u­larise his re­turn and en­sure he has le­gal oc­cu­pa­tion to the prop­erty while the ben­e­fi­cia­ries are be­ing as­sisted with al­ter­na­tive land. We are set­tling the mat­ter am­i­ca­bly,” said Mr Mukoyi.

“It feels good to be back. The evic­tion had re­duced me to a beg­gar as I had to move from one friend to another for ten­ancy. This (Les­bury Farm) is my only home, and I have no other home, and nowhere to go. I was born and bred here, mak­ing this the only place I call home,” said Mr Smart.

He said Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa’s new ad­min­is­tra­tion re­spects agri­cul­tural prop­erty rights.

“I am grate­ful to the new Gov­ern­ment for re­view­ing my evic­tion and re­spect­ing agri­cul­tural prop­erty rights. I was treated un­fairly, and I am grate­ful to Pres­i­dent Cde Mnan­gagwa and our Pro­vin­cial Af­fairs Min­is­ter Cde Mon­ica Mutsvangwa for in­ter­ven­ing to re­verse my evic­tion. I am elated.

“The farm work­ers and com­mu­nity are elated. All the farm work­ers should im­me­di­ately re­turn and start work.

“I know they have been scat­tered, but they should re­turn, I want all of them to re­sume work be­cause we suf­fered to­gether. We were in it to­gether. They fought from my cor­ner, they suf­fered for my re­turn, and this vic­tory, cour­tesy of the new ad­min­is­tra­tion, be­longs to all of us,” said Mr Smart.

Chief Tandi said he was in the process of re­mov­ing his prop­erty from the farm.

“That is the of­fi­cial po­si­tion (Smart’s re­turn) and I am cur­rently en­gag­ing the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties to be as­sisted with al­ter­na­tive land and also to be al­lowed to con­tinue work­ing on the crop that I had planted till I har­vest.

“I don’t mind be­ing al­lo­cated another farm, all I want is farm­land in my area. Gov­ern­ment should guar­an­tee a smooth tran­si­tion be­cause our re­la­tions are not good.

I was al­lo­cated land by Gov­ern­ment, and I will con­tinue to deal di­rectly with the same au­thor­ity to avoid con­fronta­tion,” said Chief Tandi.

Bishop Man­hanga said al­though he vol­un­tar­ily with­drew from the farm, his offer let­ter has not been with­drawn.

“I vol­un­tar­ily moved off the farm to avoid con­fronta­tion and ten­sion and in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the of­fi­cial com­mu­ni­ca­tion. As of now I have not been served with an of­fi­cial let­ter of with­drawal.

I am a ben­e­fi­ciary of the land re­form pro­gramme, and if the au­thor­i­ties de­cide to re­al­lo­cate me another land to pave way for his re­turn, I will abide by it. At this point I do not have other doc­u­men­ta­tion apart from the offer let­ter that was given to me,” said Bishop Man­hanga.

Ef­forts to get a com­ment from Mr Nyakonda were fruit­less.

Bishop Man­hanga was al­lo­cated 100 hectares of Les­bury on March 20, 2015 un­der phase two of the Land Re­form and Re­set­tle­ment Pro­gramme.

In 2016 Rusape mag­is­trate Mr Shingi Mu­tiro con­victed Mr Smart of con­tra­ven­ing Sec­tion 3 (4) of the Gazetted Land (Con­se­quen­tial Pro­vi­sions) Act, Chap­ter 20:28, fined him $300 or two months im­prison and or­dered him to va­cate Les­bury Es­tate by March 31, 2017.

Mr Smart ap­pealed to the High Court and lost it by con­sent be­fore Jus­tice Al­phas Chi­takunye on April 26, 2017.

Jus­tice Chi­takunye said: “It is or­dered by con­sent that the ap­pli­cant (Smart) va­cate sub­di­vi­sion 2 of Les­bury Es­tate in Makoni Dis­trict in Man­i­ca­land on or be­fore May 31, 2017, fail­ing which the Sher­iff or his law­ful deputy may evict the ap­pli­cant and all those claim­ing oc­cu­pa­tion through him. Both par­ties shall main­tain peace to­wards each other. The ap­pli­cant shall pay the fifth re­spon­dent’s agreed costs.”

Af­ter Jus­tice Chi­takunye’s rul­ing, a writ of eject­ment was is­sued by the High Court on June 2, 2017, fol­low­ing which po­lice moved in to evict Mr Smart.

They were met with re­sis­tance from farm em­ploy­ees and hired vil­lagers.

Mr Rob Smart of Les­bury Farm in Head­lands in­spects some of the dam­age af­ter ar­riv­ing back at his farm

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