9 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Chief Negomo Summons White Farmer to Court

MASHONALAND Central province traditional leader Chief Negomo (Luscious Chitsinde) yesterday summoned Tavedale farm proprietor Mr Pip Mattison to appear before his traditional court over allegations of destroying 70 hectares of a maize crop belonging to 55 A1 farmers recently.

The summons were delivered yesterday by messengers of the chief's court, Mr Watson Baziwell and Mr Dougmore Chimukoko, at the farm.

"You are summoned to appear in person before this court at Chiweshe business centre at Negomo community court on the 12th of January at 9am to answer charges of destroying A1 farmers' crops. And you must bring any witness and any evidence you wish to produce in order to support your case," read the summons, which Mr Mattison signed.

Chief Negomo yesterday declined to comment on the issue saying his actions were pursuant to a complaint raised by some farmers in his jurisdiction.

"I received a complaint and am not sure whether Mr Mattison did what he is said to have done or why he did it, if at all he did it. Destruction of crops is an abomination," said Chief Negomo.

Mr Mattison's lawyer, Mr Tich Muhonde of Muhonde Attorneys said he was still to receive instructions from his client.

He, however, said the action by the traditional leader raised a number of issues to do with jurisdiction.

"The issues complained of are of criminal nature and I do not think that the chief has jurisdiction on such issues. There are a whole lot of unanswered legal questions. If the maize was unlawfully planted and lawfully destroyed, how does it become an abomination?" asked Mr Muhonde.

Over 55 A1 farmers had their maize crops destroyed last month in a land dispute pitting them and the commercial farmer.

The dispute arose after the 55 were given offer letters to a portion of the land by Mazowe district administrator Mrs Shelter Nyakudya.

Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement Minister Herbert Murerwa and Provincial Governor and Resident Minister Martin Dinha said the farm was covered under the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement.

Minister Murerwa has since indicated that he would have the offer letters revoked.

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