Former Cabinet Minister, Obert Mpofu, who is currently Zanu PF administration secretary, is vowing to stay put at Esidakeni Farm in Nyamandlovu, Matabeleland North province, where he has occupied part of the property, owned by a son of a late national hero and and two business partners.
Mpofu, whose business entity Mswelangubo Farm was offered 145 hectares of the property sold a few years ago to Siphosami Malunga, Charles Moyo and Zephania Dhlamini, has started cultivating part of the farm his workers “invaded” on Friday.
In an interview Mpofu said, “The company was offered a farm by government. It’s good for the family to go and view the piece of land that was allocated to it and work has started. And there is no going back. Anyone aggrieved should approach the government to at least clear his frustration.
“Malunga displayed the letter to the world and seems to know more than anyone else in this country but that kind of attitude won’t get him anyway. He won’t get that farm. Perhaps he has got his portion the government has given him but we are not going anywhere and anyone who is using our portion for whatever should leave as soon as it is feasible.”
He said only President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government can persuade him to leave Esidakeni Farm, which was sold to Malunga and his two partners in 2017 by its previous owner, Jeffry Swindles, who lives in Australia.
“It is only the state that can persuade us to leave the place because they are the ones who have given us (part of the farm). The fact that they escorted us to view the piece of land that has been offered shows that they are serious and they never mentioned anything about any dispute over the ownership of the farm. Malunga and his partners should show us their offer letter and if they have it, we will go back to government to ask them why they have offered us a piece of land that is owned by other people. As far as I’m concerned Malunga does not own this farm.
“I live in this area and I know a lot about Esidakeni farm. Malunga is using abusive language on social media and attacking me all the time. Why? He should follow the law. As far as I’m concerned, we have been offered a piece of land at Esidakeni and we are here to stay. We have started cultivating a portion of the land that was allocated to us.”
Reacting to Mpofu’s occupation of the farm, Malunga attacked him saying he is abusing his political position in the ruling Zanu PF party.
In a series of tweets, Malunga said, “I just received a message from my partner Zeph Dhlamini at Esidakeni. @DrObertMpofu sent his son & scores of people there. They are ploughing our fields. They chased our workers from the irrigation points & threatened them against taking pictures. This is what Zimbabwe has become. We will defend our rights. We will evict him & his people and we will not rest until he answers for his corrupt and criminal abuse of power and authority.
“We know we are not his only victims. How does @ZANUPF_Official allow and justify this? So this was the cowardly threat he was making: to invade our farm. Our fathers and other liberation heroes are surely turning in their graves. But we will fight @Dr.ObertMpofu. He does not intimidate us.”
Dhlamini, who co-owns the farm with Malunga and Moyo, confirmed the “invasion”, noting that Mpofu’s workers have started tilling the land where they wanted to plant onions.
“They are at the farm right now ploughing a certain section. They told our workers not to interfere with their operations. We are not interfering with their operations. They have decided to take the law into their hands.”
Sometime this year, Agriculture Minister Anxious Masuka published a notice in the Government Gazette announcing that it had acquired Keshelmar Farm, also known as Esidakeni Farm, measuring 553 hectares. The government said the farm was compulsory acquired under Section 72(2) of the country’s constitution.
Malunga and his business partners say they have all the documents indicating that they acquired the farm in 2017.
He is a son of Zimbabwe’s national hero, Sydney Malunga, who was laid to rest at the country’s National Heroes Acre. His father died in a mysterious road traffic accident in 1994.
Indications are that Central Intelligence Organisation co-deputy director-general, Gatsha Mazithulela, and Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs Minister, Richard Moyo, are behind the move to seize the property. They were not available for comment as they were not responding to calls on their mobile phones.
The High Court recently ordered the eviction from Esidakeni Farm of a man identified as Dumisani Madzivanyathi, who invaded the farm a few months ago, claiming that he had been given an offer letter by the Ministry of Lands.
Madzivanyathi refused to leave the piece of land even after he was evicted twice by the messenger of court.