Matonga kicks out Mugabe ally

Augustine Mukaro/Ray Matikinye



PROMINENT Zanu PF financier in Mashonaland West province, Tom Beattie, is on the verge of losing his citrus-exporting Chigwell Estate near

Chegutu as government has resolved to subdivide his land to resettle A2 farmers.


Documents in the possession of the Zimbabwe Independent show that Zanu PF has turned its back on Beattie for his “intransigence” and subdivided Chigwell into 16 plots for A2 farmers as punishment for “failing to recognise the authenticity of offer letters”.


Six of the beneficiaries are listed as being employees in the President’s Office.


Beattie is also set to lose proceeds from his crop, worth more than $50 billion, to deputy Information minister Bright Matonga.


In a letter to the director of the Civil Division of the AG’s office, dated March 26, the secretary for Lands directed that Chigwell Estate be subdivided into small plots with Matonga as the main beneficiary.


The decision to completely dispossess Beattie was arrived at after a follow-up visit to Mashonaland West by a high-powered Lands ministry entourage.


The letter says: “The Ministry (of Lands) would like to advise that following a follow-up visit to the province that was undertaken on February 13 by the honourable ministers (Didymus) Mutasa and (Flora) Buka, the secretary, principal director, director resettlement, national taskforce and land inspectorate, the provincial lands committee and the district lands committee directed that:


l “Mr Beattie only recovers input costs incurred on the current crop;


l “all profits realised from the crop be allotted to Mr Matonga; and,


l “that there be peaceful co-existence whilst Mr Beattie’s future was being decided.”


Beattie has been embroiled in a long legal battle with Matonga over the occupation of the farmhouse and workshop. Beattie has taken Matonga to court for harvesting and selling 200 tonnes of soyabeans Beattie had planted.


Matonga pocketed the proceeds estimated at $50 billion as the Lands ministry directed that Beattie only recover input costs incurred on the current crop and all profits realised from the crop be allotted to Matonga.


The letter says the decision was taken after it was established that Beattie had been resisting the presence of Matonga and other A2 farmers allocated land on the farm.


Beattie however dismissed the documents as fake and claimed they were the work of corrupt officials in the Lands ministry.


He said Lands minister Mutasa had given him assurances of continued tenure on his side of Chigwell Estate.


“Mutasa told me to respect Matonga’s offer letter because it was a government document and that the soya and seed maize crop was mine and that I could give a portion of the proceeds to the deputy minister,” Beattie said yesterday.


“He (Mutasa) also said the workshop was mine but I could share it with Matonga or repair his equipment when he asks me to.”


But Matonga denied any wrongdoing and scoffed at Beattie’s assertions saying the farmer had no reason to remain at Chigwell.


He produced several official letters from the Civil Division of the AG’s office and Lands ministry relating to the legal wrangle over ownership of the estate, the disputed boundary, and ownership of other assets including the workshops dating back to October 2005.


On the issue of the crop he is said to have sold to the GMB, Matonga said he had written to Beattie to invoice him for the cost of inputs that he had incurred as directed by the lands committee and was yet to get a response.


“I have followed every official and legal route possible to resolve the issue,” Matonga said. “But Beattie seems unprepared to let go despite overwhelming evidence against him.”


Matonga denied that feuding Zanu PF factions in Mashonaland West were using him as a pawn in the succession battle.


“People have said I am being used by Minister (Ignatious) Chombo,” Matonga said. “I have heard those claims before but why would I be used by someone when I am a deputy minister?”


Beattie, who has been on the property since 1983, donates generously to community projects and financed campaign programmes for Zanu PF candidates. He has a framed letter from President Robert Mugabe prominently displayed in his office.


“On behalf of my wife and family, and indeed my own behalf, I wish to express my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to you for a handsome gift of three beasts and two sheep given to us during our wedding ceremony. The gift would certainly constitute part of the founding herd of our family’s future livestock,” the letter reads. It is signed: “Yours Sincerely RG Mugabe, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe”.


Mugabe wed First Lady Grace in 1996.


Beattie also said he had donated 13 000 hectares to the government for resettlement since 1983, well before
the fast-track land reform started in 2000.

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