‘Cellphone’ farmers to lose offer letters | The Herald

via ‘Cellphone’ farmers to lose offer letters | The Herald February 27, 2014 by Daniel Nemukuyu

The High Court says beneficiaries of the land reform programme who are underutilising their land should have their offer letters withdrawn to pave way for more deserving farmers.
Justice Nicholas Mathonsi made the remarks yesterday while confirming the withdrawal of an offer letter from Mutare businessman Mr Fungai Chaeruka, and the subsequent reallocation of the same land to the former owner Ms Heather Guild.

Mr Chaeruka lost the land after it came to the authorities’ attention that he was underutilising 498 hectares of Lot 5, Mazonwe Farm in Mutare.

The court heard that Mr Chaeruka was practising horticulture on less than one hectare, leaving more than 497ha idle.
The withdrawal was effected following a directive by the late Vice President Joseph Msika, who was at the time the chairperson of the National Lands Committee.

In a seven-page judgment delivered yesterday in the motion court, Justice Mathonsi said underutilisation of land was a breach of the conditions under which allocations were made under the land reform programme.

“The Government policy on land reform is not recreational, neither is it designed to accord beneficiaries some pastime. It is meant to benefit those willing and able to utilise land. One cannot be allowed to hold on to large tracts of land they are not using simply to baby-sit an inflated ego.

“If a beneficiary is not using the land, that is a breach of the conditions upon which that land is offered. It should therefore be withdrawn and given to more deserving candidates. For the applicant to utilise less than a hectare while leaving the remaining 497 hectares fallow, was scandalous.

“It entitled first respondent (Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement) to withdraw the offer letter,” ruled Justice Mathonsi.
Advocate Thabani Mpofu acted for Ms Guild while Adv David Ochieng represented Mr Chaeruka.

Justice Mathonsi agreed with Adv Mpofu on the point that the minister is empowered to withdraw an offer whenever there is a breach of contract.

“I agree with Mr Mpofu for the second defendant that if the applicant accepted the offer letter, he accepted it on the basis of Clause 7, which gives the minister unfettered power to cancel or withdraw the land as a result of a breach or if he deems it necessary. The applicant has not disputed that he was under-utilising the land.

“In fact he boldly stated in paragraph 3 of his answering affidavit that: ‘The scale of one’s farming operations viz the size of land does not provide a basis for the     unlawful withdrawal of an offer letter’.”

Justice Mathonsi blasted Mr Chaeruka for seeking political protection in a legal dispute, saying the courts were simply there to dispense justice.

“Mr Mpofu urged me to award costs on a punitive scale in light of of the applicant’s disdain of the provisions of the law having elected to pursue a political solution taking advantage of the chairman of Zanu-PF’s political clout on legal issues.

“In addition, right up to the time this matter was argued, the applicant remained rooted at the farm even as he had no lawful authority to do so.

“In so doing he dirtied his hands. His conduct deserves the court’s censure,” he said.
The judge said it was now time for the nation to know that the courts are there to dispense justice in a country that prides itself with its strict adherence to the rule of law.

“To set aside the due process of law in favour of something extra-legal, and in the process bring the administration of justice to disrepute will be penalised with punitive costs.

“In the result, the application is hereby dismissed with costs on a legal practitioner and client scale,” ruled the judge.



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    Well done your Justice,its time these lazy misguided people realise that farming means hard work not thieving from others.I hope more of these cellphone farmers will lose their lands for our country to improve.I pray that the courts apply the rule of law fairly to root out corruption and silly political related offenses.We have to stop this impunity which has led to the break down of our rule of law.

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    The judge said it was now time for the nation to know that the courts are there to dispense justice in a country that prides itself with its strict adherence to the rule of law.
    What brought about this change of heart, Zimbabwe law was based on political patronage, who are they trying to fool now? Or is it a ruse to get more EU/US aid?

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    John Thomas 8 years ago

    I am at a slight loss here. A Zimbabwean judge making a ruling that seems to make sense? This is very out of character. My instinct tells me there is more to this story than is reported in the article.

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    Doris 8 years ago

    So, basically, a white farmer gets kicked off his land with no compensation. The so-called new farmer takes over a going concern – trashes it – grows a few cabbages – sells moveable assets and stuffs up the homesteads. Judge then rules that original farmer is given back their land. What next? Original farmer gets farm back to a going profitable concern. Next so-called new farmer then sees a lekker bit of land that is making money. Original farmer then gets kicked off cos he/she is white, without compensation, and next so-called new farmer takes over. Do we all look that stupid?

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    Doris 8 years ago

    Actually, on second thoughts, maybe if the original white farmer now gets their original land back, it may be a pre-cursor for that white farmer to be denied compensation. In other words, if you refuse to re-take possession of your farm, then you are not entitled to compensation. Which also means that maybe, just maybe, compensation is imminent? Or am I dreaming?

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    Danza wa Masunungure 8 years ago

    Thats waylaying for the EU/USAid. Dont be fulled.

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    fishy fishy fishy. Whats in it for judge?Watch this space

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    Sekuru Mushore 8 years ago

    Thank you Mr judge even though this is suspicious .The zimbabean courts contributed immensily for the downfall of Zimbabwe as nation

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    Tongoona 8 years ago

    Yes this is good but some resettled and productive farmers could not use their farms because their farms were invaded by ZANU PF hooligans despite being black. The hooligans proudly say there is nothing you can do, go anywhere ZANU PF will protect us. One friend of mine who is a very experienced and productive farmer in Mazowe Glendale ICA fought long running battles with ZANU PF hooligans. Efforts to get help from nearby police station proved useless as police were on the side of hooligans. Right now the farm is full of illegal farmers, all vegetation has been destroyed and irrigation system for a hundred hectares completely destroyed. Under utilisation of farms is the peri-urban agriculture policy by government. The ZANU PF hooligans politicized the whole thing to kick out productive farmers hence we are importing maize. The straight and narrow answer is to ban peri-urban agriculture immediately. Those who want to farm in towns and cities must go kumusha where their is no organised farming.

    Peri-urban farming endangers life, makes towns and cities look ugly because where there should be flowers and lawns there is maize fields. Councillors should stop forthwith allocating land for peri-urban farming to town and city dwellers.Law and order must be inforsed, the law of trespass must be brought back to stop people from straying into other people’s properties.