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NUST lecturer in aggressive new push to grab Esidakeni Farm

by Staff reporter
08 Aug 2021 at 06:38hrs | Views
A National University of Technology (NUST) lecturer on Thursday night attempted a forcible takeover of a disputed farm which is currently the subject of a court battle.

Dumisani Madzivanyati and his associate Davison Gumbo shut down a borehole and irrigation pumps at Esidakeni Farm in Umguza, Matabeleland North, before changing the gate locks. They told dozens of workers that they had been "dismissed."

In a dramatic showdown on Friday morning, one of the farm's three owners Zephaniah Dhlamini arrived at the farm with police officers and confronted Gumbo, who was later arrested.

Dhlamini, himself a scientist at NUST, accused Gumbo of trespassing and behaving like an outlaw. An audio of the confrontation was released online.

On the audio, Dhlamini challenges Gumbo to produce any documentation entitling him to be on the farm, which the latter failed to do.

Charged Dhlamini: "Why are you trespassing on my farm, and why are you trying to prohibit me from entering my farm without any documentation?

"By what authority am I no longer allowed into my farm? What gives you the authority to shut down my farming machinery and evict my workers on my farm?

"Who has sent you Gumbo, this matter is before the courts, are you Madzivanyati's lapdog?"

Gumbo insisted that he did not know Madzivanyati, but Dhlamini reminded him that he was in the company of Madzivanyati only a day earlier when they shut down the borehole.

On the audio, Gumbo threatens a police officer accompanying Dhlamini with unspecified action while invoking unnamed higher political powers if the police officer insisted on ordering him to leave.

"I'm sure you can see we didn't run away, it's because Dhlamini no longer has jurisdiction, authority and right to be here," Gumbo claims. "If you're to back him and support him against the authority we have, we'll have no choice but to take action.

"When we take action against you for supporting Dhlamini, the time will come when you have to stand by yourself as a police officer to explain your actions against the authority we have."

The unidentified police officer appealed to both parties to resolve the matter amicably.

"This matter should be settled amicably. Let's just be calm for a while for things to be settled amicably. As police officers, we don't take sides," the officer said, adding that his superior would be making his way to the farm.

Gumbo maintained that "whether I have an offer letter and or not is of no consequence", insisting: "The fact of the matter in front of the police officer is that you (Dhlamini) are now prohibited from this farm by the law."

On July 7, Madzivanyati arrived at Esidakeni Farm claiming ownership of a section of the 550-hectare farm owned by a company registered to Dhlamini, Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) executive director Sipho Malunga and miner, Charles Moyo.

Lands minister Anxious Masuka published a notice of acquisition in the Government Gazette last December – but Esidakeni Farm's owners, who bought the property in 2017, were unaware of the government's plan until June.

Masuka 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, Dhlamini and Moyo have gone to the High Court challenging the planned acquisition. In their application, they accuse Gatsha Mazithulela, the deputy director of the Central Intelligence Organisation and Matabeleland North minister Richard Moyo of instigating the takeover for political motives. The matter is pending.

Malunga said on Saturday: "The case is in the High Court. We have elaborated our side and are waiting for the responses from every respondent we cited, yet the farm grabbers have now invaded the farm.

"It speaks volumes of the lawlessness and crassness of this farm acquisition. We had a certain Davison Gumbo on the farm invoking higher powers, telling police that they can't do nothing to him about his unlawful actions."

In a later update, Malunga said police had "arrested Gumbo and his gang of invaders."

"The levels of disdain and impunity they showed to the police officer in the audio we shared are unthinkable in what is ostensibly a country with rule of law. Our manager and his family slept in the bush. We lost a whole day of business. Our crops were not watered. People coming to buy vegetables were turned away. We will sue them in their personal capacities for lost income and damages," he added.

Source - zimlive
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