THE controversy surrounding the acquisition of Gletwyn Estate in Harare has taken a new twist with government expressing interest in acquiring the farm,
after serving it with a Section 8 notice.
Gletwyn owner, Alexander Stuart Ross, who forced government to reverse plans to acquire the farm through the courts, received a Section 8 notice on July 4. Nineteen other farms around Harare have also been listed for acquisition.
Among the listed farms are Saturday Retreat owned by Crest Breeders and initially occupied by Border Gezi Housing Cooperative, Eyecourt owned by Mashonaland Holdings, Lochnivar registered in the name of Rothmans International and Carrick Creagh, owned by the Newmarch family and initially occupied by the Sally Mugabe Heights Housing Cooperative.
Previous settlements on the listed properties, some of them dating back to the year 2000, were demolished under Operation Murambatsvina in May last year.
Government’s retreat on Gletwyn Estate in May had exposed policy inconsistencies and the shortcomings of laws hastily promulgated to facilitate land seizures.
Analysts said the fresh acquisition initiative was to correct the irregularities caused by the fast-track land reform programme. Under the fast-track land reform programme, government encouraged people to invade white-owned commercial farms purportedly to correct colonial land ownership imbalances. Most of the dispossessed farmers have challenged the expropriation in courts.
Last August’s constitutional amendment Number 17 bars citizens from contesting the seizure of their land in the courts. But it also makes it clear that government cannot take urban land for purposes of resettlement.
“If the state were to start seizing urban land by ‘selective nationalisation’, it is possible the property market, upon which the state depends for many revenues and many people depend for their livelihoods, would collapse,” Ross said in a court application.