Zimbabwe: State Agents Move to Grab Moyo's Farm

Former education minister Jonathan Moyo (file photo).

State security agents are manouvrering to illegally seize a Mazowe farm belonging to former Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo (pictured) who is in self-imposed exile since the coup that toppled ex-president Robert Mugabe in 2017, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.

Moyo, who fled the country as the coup ensued after surviving a night raid by the army with his family and friends in Harare, purchased Elephant Trust Farm measuring 623 hectares at the height of violent land seizures in 2001.

The former cabinet minister -- who had fierce political battles with President Emmerson Mnangagwa before the coup and continues to hound him on social media -- bought the farm for ZW$6 billion, translating to US$105 401,84 then through a loan facility extended to him by the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ), according to documents seen by the Independent from his local lawyers.

Moyo had initially been offered the farm by the government under the chaotic land redistribution exercise but opted to buy it to get secure title.

According to letters written by lawyers representing Moyo to Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement minister Perence Shiri, dated May 28 2019, state security agents comprising military, police and intelligence officers descended on the farm last month with the intention of grabbing it.

Moyo is being represented by Atherstone and Cook Legal Practioners.

"We write at the instruction of our client Professor Jonathan Moyo who instructs us as follows: He is the owner of the remainder of Patterson Farm, measuring 622,9125 hectares, otherwise known as the Elephant Trust Farm situated in the district of Mazowe," the lawyers wrote.

"However, despite our client's ownership of the farm, various suspicious individuals have been visiting Elephant Trust Farm in recent weeks and months with the clear intention of disturbing our client's peaceful ownership of and operations at the property.

"For instance, on Friday 3 May 2019 an expansive team comprising government, army, police and Central Intelligence Organisation officers representing the Mashonaland Central provinces Joint Operations Command visited the farm for the apparent purpose of commencing a process of dispossessing Professor Jonathan Moyo of Elephant Trust Farm."

At the time of going to print, Shiri had not responded to questions sent to him to confirm taking receipt of the correspondence from Moyo's lawyers.

According to the lawyers' letter, the visit by state security agents to Moyo's farm was followed by numerous intrusions to the same property by "people who variously claimed to be from the media, from Zanu PF and from government. All of those strange visitors exhibited ill intentions in respect of our client's status at the farm".

"In fact, in recent months, public statements have been made in the media and by politicians to the effect that our client will soon be disposed of the subject farm on account of his alleged under-utilisation of same, and failure to pay workers."

Moyo's lawyers, seeking recourse from government, urged Shiri to protect their "client's ownership and legal rights in respect of the farm".

The lawyers warned that if corrective measures are not taken, they would proceed to seek judicial protection.

"Should any other person visit the farm in the coming days and weeks or months for purposes of issuing threats or attempting to violate our client's rights, we shall proceed to make an application for interdict or for any other appropriate judicial relief," the lawyers said.

"In such a circumstance, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement would inevitably be a part to those proceedings on account of the ministry's legal status as the administrative body responsible for all matters pertaining to land and agriculture."

Moyo is one of the former Zanu PF members who had coalesced around Mugabe's wife, Grace under a group commonly known as G40 which was angling to produce a successor to the ousted long-time ruler ahead of Mnangagwa.

The former cabinet minister, a fierce critic of Mnangagwa's administration, had his house raided by the military during the November 2017 coup.

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