Siphosami Malunga, son of the late national hero Sydney Malunga, whose farm is being seized by the government, claims that documents of the property’s ownership have been stolen from the Zimbabwe Deeds Office.
In a series of tweets and Facebook posts, Malunga claimed that someone linked to the government stole the documents.
“The levels of sordidness & underhandeness related to our farm issue are shocking. We gather someone removed the documents proving ownership from the files at the deeds & companies office. We have copies which we shared with authorities. We will reveal who we believe cld have & why.”
Malunga co-owns the Kershelmar Farm in Nyamandlovu with Zephaniah Dhlamini, who works at the National University of Science and Technology, and businessesman Charles Moyo.
In another tweet, Malunga said he got a message from Dhlamini indicating that those people who stole the documents left behind some receipts showing that the three bought the farm.
"I am from the registrar of companies.... Our CR14 document was stolen from the file... Foolishly they left the receipt, CR 6 and our returns for 2017... A clumsily executed plan to mislead the minister of lands.”
He said people who want to take over the farm have disrupted operations.
“It's impossible for people to understand the level of disruption a farm takeover does to productivity. We were in the middle of planting 150000 tomato plants! It's the largest tomato plant planted in that area during the winter ever. Then we have people coming prancing around our crops claiming to own everything! What message does this send to any potential investor in Zimbabwe? And we are #Open4Business??”
The government claims that it repossessed the farm from a white commercial farmer in 2004 but Malunga and partners say they bought it in 2017.
The government has not yet reacted to Malunga’s posts on social media.
Meanwhile, the Matabeleland Forum, a convergence of civic society groups and community-based organisations, has condemned the government’s actions.
It said Malunga is being victimized because he is a consistent critic of the government’s “repression and the abuse of human rights”.
In a statement, the Forum said, “We are extremely disturbed by news received on Monday 14 June 2021 that the Government of Zimbabwe has compulsorily gazetted the farm and home belonging to the family of the late National Hero, Sydney Malunga. We are concerned that after forty-one years of independence and liberation from racial discrimination, state-sanctioned wanton harassment and arbitrary victimisation citizens; The State continues to perpetuate the same injustices.
“It is the gallant sons and veteran nationalists like the freedom fighter, Sydney Malunga who contributed to the attainment of independence by Zimbabwe and to ensure all citizens have equal access to land. We are appalled that the Sate that came about following the sacrifices of liberation heroes like Sydney Malunga, has the audacity to evict the late National Hero’s family from their property, their home, their farm!”
The Matabeleland Forum says it speaks on behalf of many vulnerable populations “when we witness horrifying actions during the Second Republic where the policies are characterised by unprecedented violation of human rights coupled with impunity, high-handed malice and the relentless harassment of real and perceived opponents of the Government of Zimbabwe.”
The Forum said, “The vengeful, unabashed and deliberate assault on the private property of a National Hero and indeed of any Zimbabwean citizen by the primary institution that must defend and protect it, is a threat to our dignity as a people and to the moral conscience of our nationhood. The Matabeleland Forum condemns in the strongest possible terms the gazetting of a farm belonging to Sipho Malunga (a human rights defender, farmer and son of late national hero Sydney Malunga) and others.”
The Forum noted that this action and move by the government is totally and completely preposterous because the said piece of land is utilised at optimum level as well as contributing immensely to the local economy, the farm is wholly owned by black indigenous Zimbabwean professionals, the land was legally procured in accordance with the Deeds Registries Act and clearly mitigates against the government’s thrust of black economic empowerment.
“The Forum views this as an appalling action and calculated assault on property rights which are enshrined in the constitution of Zimbabwe. The Forum sees this as an assault on the legacy of late National hero Sidney Malunga. The action by the State violates the founding values and principles of the constitution, which recognises the gains of the liberation struggle, and the move by the State authorities is baseless, senseless and smacks of unmeasured avarice, capricious and malevolent intentions.”
The Forum said it unreservedly opposes the action by the state to acquire land from indigenous persons who are using the land for agricultural purposes and says the government should uphold the rule of law and respect the right to property as enshrined in the country’s constitution.
In a several tweets recently, Information Secretary, Nick Mangwana, clashed with Malunga on the social media platform over the repossession of the farm.
Mangwana said, “In 2004 Govt acquired a farm that belonged to a Mr Swindells who left for New Zealand then. The title deeds remain in his name. One Eddie Warambwa leased the farm from Swindells until 2010 when he died. In 2017 Sipho Malunga bought a Swindells company for US$33k. Clearly the 500ha farm had already been acquired by Govt in 2004 was not part of this transaction. A stand, and not a farm is bought for US33k. To say Govt is taking a Malunga farm is incorrect.
“In 2010 @RModiByoSouth bought the farm at an auction for US$250k as part of the Warambwa Estate debt but discovered it was already State land and abandoned the purchase. A purported purchase in 2017 does not dislodge Govt acquisition in 2004.”
Mangwana further claimed that, “In fact they are using only 30ha of this land and this land is being subdivided and being given to a number of people. They were offered 70 hectares of this and they declined maintaining it was theirs. In any case they already have 1600ha in Bubi in Mat North.”
But Malunga shot back on Twitter saying, “Nick you are shamelessly lying. We own the farm and hold the title deeds. It's really that simple. We know why the government has taken the farm. I came here to just say this. The rest we will say in the appropriate spaces.”
Lands and Agriculture Minister Anxious Masuka in a state gazette published in December last year noted that the farm is being acquired for under section 72(2) of the country’s constitution for purposes of agriculture resettlement.
Zimbabwe has since 2000, acquired over 4,500 farms and handed them over to blacks. Indications are that some top government officials own multiple farms.
A farm audit that was conducted two years ago has not been made public.