BY MOSES MATENGA
Malunga is the son of the late Zapu national hero Sydney Malunga. GOVERNMENT has torched a storm after it seized a farm owned by three individuals including Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (Osisa) executive director Siphosami Malunga, with critics claiming Malunga was being targeted for exposing human rights abuses.
According to a notice of acquisition in the Government Gazette by Lands minister Anxious Masuka, government will possess the 553-hectare farm in Nyamandlovu, Matabeleland North province, to resettle landless families.
Masuka published the notice in the Government Gazette last December, but the Malunga family says it only became aware of it last week following a call from a Lands ministry official in Bulawayo.
The Lands minister said the farm was being compulsorily acquired “for purposes of agriculture resettlement” under section 72(2) of the Constitution which allows the government to seize land without compensation except for improvements.
Malunga said the takeover of the farm, which the family bought about four years ago, was illegal and would be challenged. He also insinuated that the move was punishment for his human rights work with Osisa.
“Today, we received a call from Mr Dodzi at the Lands office in Bulawayo to tell us that the government has acquired our privately-owned farm and tomorrow they are coming to peg it and give it to people they have allocated it to.
“This is not about land reform and we will fight it in every way. The farm is wholly privately-owned by three black individuals and we only got to see the Government Gazette and acquisition notice issued on December 18 for the first time today after the lands officer gave us the number and told us to go to Government Printers,” Malunga tweeted.
But Information ministry secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana said the farm was State property.
“So-called Malunga farm facts: In 2004, the government acquired a farm that belonged to a Mr Swindells who left for New Zealand then. The title deeds remain in his name. One Eddie Warambwa leased the farm from Swindells until 2010 when he died.
“In 2017, Sipho Malunga bought a Swindells company for US$33 000. Clearly the 500-hectare farm had already been acquired by the government in 2004 was not part of this transaction. A stand and not a farm is bought for US$33 000. To say the government is taking a Malunga farm is
“In 2010, Raj Modi (Industry deputy minister) bought the farm at an auction for US$250 000 as part of the Warambwa Estate debt, but discovered it was already State land and abandoned the purchase. A purported purchase in 2017 does not dislodge government acquisition in 2004,” Mangwana tweeted.
But Malunga immediately hit back, accusing Mangwana of lying.
“You are shamelessly lying. We own the farm and hold the title deeds. It is really that simple. We know why the government has taken the farm. I came here to just say this. The rest we will say in the appropriate spaces.”
Government has been accused of fighting critics by taking over their farms.
Former minister Saviour Kasukuwere is fighting to have a war veteran evicted from his farm in Mazowe and is accusing authorities of not doing anything despite a court order.
Recently, Zanu PF youths invaded a Mutorashanga farm belonging to war veteran Frederick Mutanda, who they accused of undermining President Emmerson Mnangagwa by filing a High Court application challenging his extension of Chief Justice Luke Malaba’s term of office despite him reaching retirement age.