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FORMER President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace, who are embroiled in a land dispute with three Mazowe farmers over Lot 1A Teviotdale Farm in Mazowe district of Mashonaland Central province, have also filed a special plea seeking the dismissal of the trio’s application, arguing that the farmers’ claims have prescribed and Gushungo Holdings (Pvt) Ltd still remains the rightful owner of the property.
BY CHARLES LAITON
The three farmers, Adonia Makombe, Sahungwe Hungwe and Nyika Chifamba, had in June this year issued summons seeking Mugabe’s firm’s eviction from the farm and payment of damages, arguing they were holders of offer letters for the farm, which they grabbed at the height of the land reform programme in year 2000.
In their application, they cited Mugabe, Grace, Gushungo Holdings, Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga, Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement and Home Affairs ministers Perrance Shiri and Cain Matema, respectively, as well as police chief superintendents only identified as Nhubu and Kunene, as respondents.
“The first, second and third defendants (Gushungo Holdings, Mugabe and Grace) have raised a special plea in bar on the grounds that the claim is prescribed, no cause of action or legal right of occupation has been shown and there is a misjoinder of the second and third defendants (Mugabe and Grace),” Mugabe and his wife said in their special plea to the application.
The former Head of State’s family further said a debt or a cause of action prescribes after three years in terms of section 15(a) of the Prescription Act and cannot be pursued beyond this period.
However, Mugabe’s family defence has since been bolstered by Shiri, who, in his plea filed on August 2, 2018, said the three farmers were no longer holders of any offer letters, the latter having been withdrawn shortly after being issued, adding the farmers were never on the ground at all.
“Defendant (Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement minister) did issue offer letters to plaintiffs (Makombe, Hungwe and Chifamba), which offer letters were subsequently withdrawn. Defendant does not believe the plaintiffs ever conducted agricultural activities on their plots as former owner was still in occupation,” the minister said.
“After the offer letters were withdrawn, an offer letter was issued to one Edison Kadzombe. The former owner was still in occupation and it is the said Kadzombe, who may have made efforts to cause the former owner’s eviction.
“Plaintiffs have no right to demand anyone’s eviction over land for which they themselves have no lawful authority to use, possess or occupy. Only the fifth defendant (Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement) can exercise that right when the need arises.”
The matter appeared yesterday for a pre-trial conference before High Court judge Justice Helena Charehwa.