BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
LANDS and Agriculture minister Anxious Masuka has said the High Court has no authority to reverse the acquisition of farmland by the State.
He was responding to an application by Osisa director Siphosami Malunga and his associates challenging the acquisition of their farm situated in Nyamandlovu.
Government has gazetted Kershelmar Farms (Private) Limited measuring 553 hectares for compulsory acquisition, and has since allocated part of the farm to National University for Science and Technology (Nust) lecturer Dumisani Madzivanyati and Reason Mpofu.
The two have been allocated 50 hectares each.
However, Malunga, the son of national hero Sydney, and his business associates Charles Moyo and Zephania Dlamini, approached the Bulawayo High Court in July challenging the acquisition of the farm.
In court papers, the applicants accused authorities of tribalism and political victimisation.
Masuka, in his opposing affidavit filed on August 27 through the Civil Division of the Attorney General (AG)’s Office, said the High Court could not nullify the farm acquisition for redistribution to the landless.
“The land in question is State land and does not belong to the applicants. In addition to this, the applicants miss one critical point on dealing with acquisition issues. The acquisition process is governed and provided by section 72 of the Constitution which makes it clear that once a piece of land is gazetted, it immediately becomes State land and this process cannot be challenged through the courts,” Masuka said.
“This honourable court has no jurisdiction to hear this matter. There is no provision in law for the nullification of a proper and lawful acquisition of agricultural land whose acquisition is in terms of section 72 of the Constitution.”
Masuka accused the applicants of failure to understand the law.
“The question that then arises is that in terms of what law or legal provision is his application of agricultural land being brought.
“Clearly, the applicants are way out of their depth in terms of the appreciation of land laws and their application. The relief they seek is baseless both at law and on the facts and cannot be granted,” he said.
Mpofu, a beneficiary of the farm seizure in his opposing papers filed through lawyers Antonio and Dzvetero, added: “Applicants did not serve the court application on the AG or his Civil Division. Matters concerning gazetted land have to be served on the AG.
“Resultantly, the application is unknown, vexatious, vague and embarrassing and it should be dismissed with costs on a legal practitioner scale for the reasons advanced without even getting into the merits of the case.”
Masuka, Matabeleland North chief lands officer, the Registrar of Deeds, CIO deputy director-general Gatsha Mazithulela, Madzivanyati, Mpofu and Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs minister Richard Moyo were cited as respondents.