GWANDA white commercial farmer, Derek Rochat, has taken the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement to court for allegedly failing to disclose that he was supposed to vacate his Mkashi Ranch following its compulsory acquisition by government in 2003.
Source: Farmer sues Lands secretary, ZMC over farm – NewsDay Zimbabwe October 3, 2016
BY SILAS NKALA
In an application at the Bulawayo High Court on September 27, Rochat claimed that government officials had verbally allowed him to continue staying on part of the farm on the understanding that they issue him with an offer letter in due course.
The farmer cited Lands ministry permanent secretary, an E Sumowah and the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) as first and second respondents respectively.
“I was … permitted by the first respondent to remain in the occupation of a portion of the farm at that time. Subsequently, several A2 farmers were settled around me. I have co-operated with the said farmers and provided advice and assistance where necessary,” Rochat said in his affidavit.
“I remained in peaceful occupation of my portion until May 2016. In May 2016, I was summoned before the magistrate’s court at Gwanda and charged with contravening Section 2 (3) of the Gazetted Lands (Consequential Provisional) Act. I was surprised at this turn of events as I had always been advised by first respondents officials that I was in lawful occupation of the land in question and that an offer letter will be issued in due course. I, therefore, pleaded not guilty to the office.”
He said on the advice of his lawyer he requested from the State certain information in terms of section 6 of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act Chapter 10:24. Rochat said he believed that the information was vital to his defence to confirm his lawful occupation of the farm. He said Sumowah’s office refused to give him the information on June 8.
Rochat submitted that he then applied for review of the denial with the ZMC on August 26, 2016 and the ZMC upheld Sumowah’s decision to deny him information about the farm.
“…the applicant intends to apply… for an order setting aside the decision of the first respondent and second to refuse the applicant access to certain information held by the first respondent and an order compelling the first respondent to provide the information in terms of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act,” Rochat submitted.