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Mpofu wreaks havoc at Esidakeni Farm

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AS lawlessness and a breakdown in the rule of law in Zimbabwe persist, Zanu PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu (pictured) — a multiple farm owner — is violating a court order to vacate Esidakeni Farm owned by human rights lawyer Siphosami Malunga and his business partners Zephaniah Dhlamini and Charles Moyo.

 Farm workers this week were being booted out in a ruthless and brutal manner amid rainy conditions. They made impassioned pleas for help as Mpofu’s goons invaded the farm and threw them out despite court processes currently underway.

“Mpofu is wreaking havoc at the farm. He is evicting our workers, removing their belongings in violation of a court order and when it is raining,” a manager at Esidakeni Farm said.

 “We have secured an eviction order against him from our farm, but he appealed amid new disruptions. We applied for ejectment pending his appeal and the matter is pending. What Mpofu is doing now is abuse of office and contempt of court with impunity. The Esidakeni Farm situation and chaos manifests the breakdown in the rule of law, lawlessness and impunity in Zimbabwe.”

A voice note of a female worker describing the situation at the farm sent to the media paints a picture of continued aggression and desperation as Mpofu’s gang evicts the employees illegally and without regard for their welfare and security.

Malunga, Dhlamini and Moyo bought the farm, but Mpofu and Matabeleland North resident minister Richard Moyo, backed by Central Intelligence Organisation co-deputy director-general Gatsha Mazithulela, have been vigorously pushing to grab the farm amid resistance from the owners.

 The saga has badly damaged the image of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government which often claims it is different from the regime of the late former president Robert Mugabe that most of the current officials served.

Mpofu and a company he controls, Mswelangubo Farm (Private) Limited, have agreed to be joined to High Court application 1054/21 in which the owners of Esidakeni Farm in Nyamandlovu, Matabeleland North, are seeking an order declaring that the notice of acquisition of their farm is null and void as it violates the constitution.

The applicants are also seeking an order declaring that “any offer letter issued on the basis of the purported acquisition is null and void”.

The applicants sought to join Mpofu to the application after discovering that part of Esidakeni Farm had been parcelled out to his company.

Mswelangubo (Pvt) Ltd was cited as the eighth respondent with Mpofu being the ninth respondent.

In his founding affidavit, which was supported by Malunga and Moyo, Dhlamini said despite featuring prominently in the farm’s affairs, including visiting in March and enquiring whether it had been subdivided, Mpofu had previously not been joined to proceedings because “we had taken the view that no relief could be sought against him as we believed he had taken no benefit from the illegalities”.

 Dhlamini said they had however discovered that the first respondent in the matter, Lands minister Anxious Masuka, had issued an offer letter to a company controlled by Mpofu, despite his being a multiple farm owner, hence the application for a joinder.

The applicants provided the court Mswelangubo (Pvt) Ltd’s memorandum of association showing that Mpofu and his wife Sikhanyisiwe were the only shareholders.

They also provided a CR6 form showing that Mpofu is a director in the company, as well as the company’s certificate of incorporation.

“There is no doubt that Obert Moses Mpofu being a controlling shareholder, (albeit exercising in theory only negative control), and a portion of the farm now having been parcelled out to the company that he controls, his involvement referred to in the main application was designed to secure personal interest. It must therefore for that reason be stigmatised as abuse of power,” Dhlamini said.

Dhlamini argued that there was a strong case for joinder. “Insofar as the eighth respondent is concerned, the validity of its offer letter is in issue and it is vitally important that it be given an opportunity to defend its ill-gotten gains before equity.

 The rules of natural justice demand no less.

“As regards the ninth respondent, Mpofu, a multiple farm owner and senior official of the ruling Zanu PF party, it is important that he defends his conduct in the context of illegalities that he perpetrated for selfish reasons. For all intents and purposes, he is the direct beneficiary of the portion of the farm allocated to eighth respondent.

“It is vital that this court pronounces itself in the main matter on the conduct of senior politicians who, contrary to government policy and for self-aggrandisement, abuse power given to them by way of public trust. I have been advised that the ruling Zanu PF party has taken a position against multiple farm ownership. Mpofu’s actions are at variance with the ethos of the political party to which he belongs and which he leads.” Mpofu is represented by Ndove and Associates. — STAFF WRITER.

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