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Magistrate Rebukes Top State Official Linked to Land Scam

A Chinhoyi magistrate has rebuked a Mashonaland regional minister for his alleged involvement in a $5,000 scandal in which a former white commercial farmer got pieces of land in exchange of farming inputs.

The farmer was arrested last week on Thursday for attempting to bribe the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs, Faber Chidarikire, using a local headman.

Forty-eight year old Musarurwa Chiguvare, who was being accused of attempting to bride Mr. Chidarikire, has been fined $2,000 or two years in imprisonment by local magistrate, Never Katiyo.

In passing the sentence, Mr. Katiyo chided the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs for his alleged involvement in the land scam, saying he should not be associated with such crimes.

Katiyo concurred with the defense counsel, Mike Mutsvairo, that the minister seemingly encouraged the accused by initially accepting two installments of $4,000 and $1,000 from the white commercial farmer, Rolf Forrester, through Chiguvare.

Chiguvare was arrested when he went to the minister’s office to give him the remaining $500.

Katiyo said it still remains a mystery why it took a third occasion for the accused to be apprehended and why a mere headman could have the guts to approach the minister in connection with such issues.

The magistrate said it was very clear that the accused was being used as a front as the money involved was too much for Chiguvare’s status.

Mr. Katiyo said Chiguvare was used as a front because he seemed to have access to the minister.

Chiguvare was further sentenced to two years in imprisonment which were wholly suspended for five years.

The $5,500 involved in the land scam was forfeited to the state.

Chiguvare's lawyer, Mike Mutsvairo, said white commercial farmer Rolf Forrester, who was the co-accused and facing charges of corruption, was discharged due to lack of evidence.

About 30 so-called A2 farmers in Mashonaland West allegedly sublet their pieces of land to Forrester in exchange of farming inputs amounting to over $4,000. Forrester is also said to have assisted the farmers in ploughing their land, leading to high crop yields in the past two agricultural seasons.

The Ministry of Agriculture’s Lands Committee is against the subletting of such pieces of land.

The Zanu-PF top-decision making body outside congress, the Politburo, has already threatened to evict beneficiaries of the country’s land reforms who are subletting land to displaced white commercial farmers.

More than half of Zimbabwe’s 4,000 white farmers lost their land when Zanu-PF spearheaded land invasions which started in 2000.