A WAR of words has erupted between Matabeleland North governor Obert Mpofu and publisher Ibbo Mandaza over large tracts of commercial farmland Mandaza purchased last year.
In the latest exchange of words Mandaza has threatened to sue Mpofu if he does not elaborate on the allegations he raised in the media this week.
“He should elaborate on everything that he said against me, otherwise we are going to sue for damages,” said an irate Mandaza.
The land in question comprises five farms in Bubi district that Mandaza allegedly purchased from Charles Hammer-Nel. However, Hammer-Nel has allegedly cancelled the agreement of sale and has instead opted to give up the farms for resettlement.
War veterans and over 40 families allocated land under the land reform programme have also claimed ownership of the farms.
Mandaza locked horns with Mpofu last year after he accused him of sending war veterans to invade his property and further alleges that the governor wants him off the land on tribal grounds.
However, Mpofu this week lashed out at Mandaza and accused him of using his newspapers, the Daily Mirror and the Sunday Mirror, to scandalise him.
Mpofu’s outbursts follow two lead stories published by Mandaza’s papers last week where it was alleged that Mpofu was being investigated by the President’s Office over the improper allocation of land in the Matabeleland North safari area.
Mpofu said the land probe existed only in Mandaza’s mind.
“He (Mandaza) has been trying to compromise the system all along and we resisted,” said Mpofu.
“I warned all my officers against his suspicious activities and the story (in the Sunday Mirror) shows the kind of lunacy on an issue he knows very well is unprocedural. All this shows what kind of a man he is. We will not succumb to cheap greed which is affecting development in the province,” said Mpofu.
Mandaza says he is investing about $2,5 billion in an ambitious agricultural project on the five farms in Bubi district to be known as the Induba Agricultural Development Project.
In an interview this week, Mandaza said the governor was trying to cover up the allegations raised against him in his two papers.
“He is trying to cover up by raising non-pertinent issues but we are clear in that the land is ours. We have been disturbed by people sent onto our properties for political purposes,” said Mandaza.
He said he would not be deterred by regional-minded people and said he was free to invest in any region be it in Bulawayo or Matabeleland North.
“Instead of skirting issues he (Mpofu) should respond to issues raised in that news report otherwise what he is saying now is malicious,” charged Mandaza.