Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
ZANU-PF Insiza North MP and former Sports Minister Andrew Langa has been sucked in a fierce legal wrangle over the ownership of a farm in Insiza District, Matabeleland South province.
Mr Zenzele Sibanda, a resettled farmer, is accusing Cde Langa and a white farmer, Mr Peter J Buckle and his son, Peter (jnr) of allegedly mobilising war veterans and the local community to facilitate the illegal occupation of his property Blinkborne Farm.
Mr Sibanda said the farm was allocated to him by the Government in 2012.
The disputed farm belonged to Mr Buckle before it was acquired by Government five years ago for redistribution under the land reform programme.
Mr Sibanda filed an urgent chamber application at the Bulawayo High Court citing Cde Langa, Mr Buckle and his son Peter as respondents.
In his founding affidavit, Mr Sibanda accused the former minister of flexing his political muscle and colluding with the ex-owner of the farm to chase him out of the farm using war veterans.
Sibanda through his lawyers Dube-Banda Nzarayapenga and Partners is seeking a spoliation order interdicting Cde Langa and the Buckles from interfering with his activities at the farm.
He also wants the respondents to be ordered to remove their cattle from the farm, arguing that he was the sole owner of the property measuring 820 hectares.
“In year 2012, I was allocated the whole of Blinkborne Farm in Insiza district measuring 820 hectares under the Government’s land reform programme through an offer letter dated 5 September 2012.
“During the course of the same year, Peter J Buckle acting on behalf of his son, Peter A Buckle, being the second respondent and with the assistance of third respondent (Langa) mobilised war veterans, police and the local community members to evict me from the farm. I was illegally and forcibly removed from the farm as the first respondent (Peter J Buckle) insisted that the farm still belonged to his son,” Sibanda said.
He said after his eviction he approached the district lands committee over the matter.
“On 2 March 2015, the district lands committee chairman wrote a letter directed to the second respondent advising him on the decision to repossess Blinkborne Farm and give it back to me as the holder of the offer letter,” said Sibanda.
Mr Sibanda said despite receiving the letter from the district lands committee, the respondents have not handed back the farm.
“In January 2017, I retook occupation of the farm and brought in part of my herd of cattle. I have been in peaceful occupation of the farm from the beginning of the year until 15 February 2017 when Buckle (Snr) visited the farm and threatened my workers, telling them that the farm belonged to his son,” he said.
Sibanda said Mr Buckle (Snr) told his workers that he was authorised by Cde Langa to remove him from Blinkborne Farm.
“Buckle has already brought in his cattle into my farm and he is refusing to remove them. He said he was well-connected politically after Langa authorised him to evict me,” he said.
Sibanda said he approached the district lands committee and on enquiring about the ownership of the farm, he was told that his offer letter was still valid.
“It is clear and not in dispute that I am the rightful owner of Blinkborne Farm since I am the sole holder of an offer letter from the Ministry of Lands and Rural. The respondents have not taken any formal steps to challenge my ownership of the farm but instead they have resorted to using violence and intimidation to deprive me of my farm,” said Sibanda.
The Buckles and Cde Langa are yet to respond.