NEARLY a month after seizing 250-hectare Victory Farm belonging to Reverend Isaac Tititi Moyo at gun point in Kwekwe, the millitary has now confiscated the elderly cleric’s herd of over 100 cattle, the Zimbabwe Independent can report.
Last month, the millitary, acting on government instructions, grabbed the well-developed and equipped Victory Farm from Moyo who had occupied the property for over a decade since 2005. The farm, which has since been allocated to 5 Brigade Headquarters, sits next to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s vast Precabe Investments property in Sherwood, Kwekwe.
Mnangagwa ascended to the presidency in November last year through a millitary coup that ousted former president Robert Mugabe.
According to sources close to the developments, the army, which besieged the farm on July 7 after being allocated the property on June 20 by Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement minister Perrence Shiri — a former Air Force commander–impounded the herd of cattle after the cleric had dismantled his irrigation infrastructure on the farm.
During his operations on the land, Moyo had invested towards mechanising the business operations by acquiring modern infrastructure equipment, among other implements.
“When we moved our belongings from Victory Farm we were told by the commander in charge of the platoon that we could not take away our cattle because we had disbanded our irrigation pipes,” a source said.
“The soldiers said to us: how do you expect us to irrigate our crops when we start producing since you have taken away the irrigation? Basically they told us that we would get back our cattle once we returned the irrigation pipes which Reverend Moyo bought with his own money.”
The cleric, who was given three days to vacate Victory Farm, was however allowed to harvest his maize and horticultural produce. He was also allowed to hastily move his sheep, goats and poultry, but not the cattle.
Contacted for a comment to explain circumstances surrounding Moyo’s impounded herd of cattle, Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) spokesperson Colonel Overson Mugwisi did not respond to questions sent to him.
The army, sources said, later contacted the elderly cleric, who leads the Christ Apostolic Church Worldwide Revelation, and advised him that the reason why he could not move his cattle herd was because there was a “foot and mouth outbreak” in the Midlands region.
“After about two weeks, the explanation of the army changed, they are now saying we cannot move our cattle because there is a foot and mouth outbreak.
That is what we were also told by the provincial veterinary department. Our herd of cattle is still at the farm,” the source said.
However, Midlands provincial veterinary officer Daniel Hove said he would need ample time to explain why Moyo could not move his cattle.
“Can you give me more time to gather more information (about Moyo’s cattle),”said Hove, advising the Zimbabwe Independent to call him later.
Last month, the Independent reported that a platoon consisting of about 30 soldiers armed with assault rifles and brandishing an offer letter signed by Moyo besieged Victory Farm, effectively stopping operations at the business enterprise.
Checks showed that the military cited security reasons for its brutal action.
Documents obtained from the Lands ministry during an investigation into the issue show Moyo was allocated the farm on November 25 2005 through an offer letter signed by the then National Security minister Didymus Mutasa, who was also in charge of Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement.
Asked for a comment last month about the farm seizure, Shiri said he did not remember grabbing Moyo’s farm.
“It would make sense if you speak to the army. But the army is responsible for many projects in agriculture including livestock and banana plantations,” Shiri said.
“I do not remember signing that letter (withdrawal letter). Are you able to prove the authenticity of my signature?”
Prior to the seizure of his farm, the 80-year-old cleric, whose commercial farming operations also supported his philanthropic work, used to deliver an estimated 1 350 tonnes of maize, wheat and soya beans to depots in the Midlands province.