VICE-PRESIDENT Phelekezela Mphoko was on Wednesday caught in yet another eye of a storm when he paid an impromptu visit to Carswell Farm in Mashonaland West province under the guise of resolving a land dispute.
Source: Mphoko in yet another storm – NewsDay Zimbabwe August 26, 2016
The farm is at the centre of an ownership dispute between Carswell Montana Meats and Joseph Dzvaka Chirau. The latter claims to be in possession of a government-issued offer letter dated 2005.
According to sources privy to the visit, the VP claimed his mission had been sanctioned by First Lady Grace Mugabe. Mphoko, however, had to leave in a huff after local Zanu PF politicians questioned his unannounced visit and interest in the disputed property.
Mphoko, who was accompanied by Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs minister Faber Chidarikire along with the provincial police commander, only identified as Senior Assistant Commissioner Mushaurwa, and district police boss, Chief Superintendent Antonio, reportedly further incensed the local political leadership after he allegedly barred them from attending the meeting.
Chief Chirau (born Charles Chabvutagondo) was equally not amused with the convening of a meeting of that stature in his absence.
He said he only got to know about the meeting late and by the time he got to the farm, proceedings were already winding up.
“I am like a visitor in my land. I was not even aware we had a high-profile individual in the person of the VP of the country coming until I got here and was not even given due recognition. I am afraid to say there appears to be something fishy in all this and who and why this meeting was organised in the first place, we are keen to find answers,” the traditional leader said.
Contacted for comment, Chidarikire curtly said: “We were on a fact-finding mission and we have been presented with facts . . . decisions will be made later and we will inform those concerned, including the beneficiary, when the time comes.”
However, documents in the possession of this paper show that on July 18 thisyear, Chidarikire allegedly usurped the role of the provincial lands committee and wrote to Carswell Montana Meats, giving them guarantees that they would not be evicted from the farm.
Mphoko indicated that Chirau would be allocated another farm elsewhere. This was despite the fact that Chirau had, on two occasions, been granted the right to occupy the farm by the High Court, which also gave an ultimatum to Carswell Montana Meats to vacate the premises.
“In terms of Section 9 of the Land Acquisition Act, the applicant (Carswell Montana) is obliged to vacate the property after 45 days from the date upon which the land vests in the acquiring authority. It also seems to me that the applicant is seeking from this court an order entitling him to remain on the property when statute clearly prohibits him from doing so,” wrote Justice Antonia Guvava in a High Court judgment dated July 27, 2005.
After the meeting, a visibly angry Zanu PF district chairman, Solomon Nacho, confronted Mphoko and blocked him from getting into his car, and challenged him for barring the party’s top leadership from attending the indaba.
“I speak on behalf of a leader chosen by the leadership which includes you and I want to categorically inform you that what has happened here today is not right. Both your person and your office have disregarded the very people you trusted with the responsibility to lead,” he told a stunned Mphoko.
The VP is not a stranger to controversy as his continued stay at Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare since his appointment as Mugabe’s co-deputy in 2014 has exposed him to the wrath of rights activists and opposition parties.
Recently, Mphoko caused another dispute after he allegedly stormed Avondale Police Station and ordered the release of two top Zinara officials implicated in a multi-million-dollar scam. The VP has also been caught up in two other land disputes in Matobo district and Mashonaland East province.