The Zimbabwe Defence Forces has dismissed reports in some sections of the media that ZDF commander, General Philip Valerio Sibanda, invaded Goede Hoop Farm in Mazowe.
In a statement yesterday, ZDF director public relations Colonel Teddy Ndlovu said the farm in question had not been allocated to General Sibanda, who had never visited the farm. However, one of the four sections of the farm had been divided into acquisition and had been allocated to the army and the police as corporate entities.
“The Daily News and NewsDay on April 12, 2021 published articles titled ‘Farmers sue army, police chiefs’ and ‘Matanga, Sibanda sued for land grab.’ The articles claimed that the General PV Sibanda and Commissioner General Godwin Matanga had been taken to court for grabbing Mazowe Farm.
“The true facts of the matter are as detailed below:
“The Livaditakis family has been abusing the court processes by repeatedly bringing frivolous applications based on the same allegations and arguments since 2017, each time thereafter abandoning their court applications. Their case has already been decided by the court on March 25, 2021 and dismissed since the Livaditakis failed to prosecute their case as they were in default,” he said.
Colonel Ndlovu said the family has now resorted to newspapers to pursue their baseless claims and in the process tarnishing the image and person of General Sibanda, the Commander Zimbabwe Defence Forces and the Zimbabwe Defence Forces as an organisation.
He added that the fact of the matter is that the land in question is state land in terms of Section 27 of the Constitution. In pursuit of its constitutional mandate, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement, subdivided the land into four subdivisions.
One of the subdivisions measuring 478 hectares was allocated to the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), and not General Sibanda as the report made the public to believe, and the other subdivision was allocated to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), and not Commissioner General Matanga as an individual, while the remaining portion was allocated to the Livaditakis family, the family at the centre of the incorrect reports.
“All these allocations were in terms of the Gazetted Land (Consequential Provisions) Act. Contrary to what the public is being made to believe by the story in the said publication, the Livaditakis family do not have any documents to show that they have title to or ownership to the land in question. They only have an offer letter for the sub-division allocated to them and this document does not confer rights to ownership of the land in question.
“Whilst the Livaditakis family’s argument is based on the Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement(BIPPA), it must be noted that in terms of the law, BIPPA does not affect the legality of compulsory acquisition of land under the land reform programme.
“The fact that the reporters never bothered to verify the story with the Commander Zimbabwe Defence Forces, the ZNA or the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement before publishing it reflects badly on their basic professionalism. It also reflects an ongoing sinister agenda to portray the ZDF and its command as unprofessional, lawless and unruly.”
Under BIPPA agreements land can still be acquired, but compensation agreements are different. Colonel Ndlovu said the story in question is defamatory and violates the personal integrity of General Sibanda as it contains falsehoods which purports that; the offer letter was issued to him in his personal capacity and that he invaded Goede Hoop Farm in Mazowe, Mashonaland Central in 2018 and demanded that the family vacates the premises as ownership has been transferred to them.
He said the story claims that General Sibanda “stormed the farm and told me that I need to leave the farm as the farm was now theirs” when in fact General Sibanda has never set foot at the said farm and never had any such conversation with anyone from Livaditakis family.