FORMER Zanu-PF Mashonaland East provincial chairman Mr Ray Kaukonde allegedly abused his office to acquire vast tracts of land and also protected over 40 white farmers at the expense of hundreds of landless villagers.
Mr Kaukonde was vice-chair of the Mashonaland East provincial lands committee, a position he allegedly abused to assume tyrannical command over several farms in all districts of the province.
It is also alleged that Mr Kaukonde routinely invoked the name of then Vice-President Joice Mujuru to intimidate anyone who opposed his decisions.
In Goromonzi District, at least 40 farms (list available) are still owned by white farmers although the land was gazetted for resettlement, with Mr Kaukonde accused of protecting the farmers.
The farmers own large tracts of land, some of which measure over 1 000 hectares.
Information obtained by The Sunday Mail shows that the white farmers bankrolled the Dr Mujuru faction through Mr Kaukonde in their plot to topple President Mugabe.
The former provincial chair is also accused of owning multiple farms in Masonaland East, a province in which he is said to still hold much influence despite his fall from grace.
A senior war veteran and farmer in the province, Cde Takesure Mbano, said: “Whenever a dispute arose over land, Kaukonde would step in and take sides and use all the influence he had to subdue people, even when they were right.
“His actions have affected land redistribution in Mashonaland East because when he was chairman, he would protect the white farmers and people that were close to him.”
Mr Kaukonde once served as Governor and Resident Minister of the province.
Lands and Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora said provinces had sovereignty on how they handle land matters and declined to comment on the allegations against Mr Kaukonde.
“I cannot be in a position to know every gazetted land. This is determined by the provinces and we rely on the provinces to give us the specific position on all and issues. So the provinces can give you the specific details on any issues.
“In terms of white farmers, there is an exemption on starred breeders and diaries even if their land was gazetted,” he said.
Newly-appointed Minister of State for Provincial Affairs for Mashonaland East Joel Matiza said he was still settling into his office.
“I can only be able comment after next week, that is when I should have received briefings on all issues in the province,” he said.
It has also emerged that in Ruwa District, ugly battles have erupted between Mr Kaukonde and some housing co-operatives over thousands of hectares of land which the politician claims to own through a company called Prestigious Residential Development Company.
Mr Kaukonde is said to have jointly founded the company with Dr Mujuru’s late husband, General (Retired) Solomon Mujuru.
He is reportedly selling the stands in Ruwa for US$65 000, although it is State land.
Recently, Goromonzi West legislator and Transport Deputy Minister Petronella Kagonye accused Mr Kaukonde of being connected to a rowdy group that had been holding demonstrations against her over the handling of the land issue in her constituency.
This came after the group, which comprises members of housing co-operatives in Goromonzi, accused Deputy Minister Kagonye of swindling them.
She refuted the allegations, saying the demonstrations were orchestrated by a Stambile Makamba, a Zanu-PF member who lost to her in primary elections in 2013.
Makamba is said to be a close Kaukonde associate.
Mr Kaukonde was one nine provincial chairpersons deposed in the run-up to Zanu-PF’s 6th National People’s Congress for fanning factionalism and alleged involvement in a plot to oust and/or assassinate President Mugabe.
Mr Kaukonde reportedly fled to South Africa when the alleged plot was reported by the public media.