FORMER Mashonaland West governor Peter Chanetsa allegedly sanctioned the seizure by nuns of Malabar Farm in Darwendale, even before the 874-hectare farm was listed for compulsory acquisitio
n, the Zimbabwe Independent heard last week.
Sagar Farming (Pvt) Ltd managing director, Arthur Swales, who is leasing the farm, said in a statement that a Chinhoyi Arex official revealed in 2002 that Chanetsa wanted half the farm for the nuns.
In November 2002, Sister Helen Maminimini, the superior-general of the order of the Little Community of the Blessed Lady, six nuns and a Chinhoyi Arex official, Shepherd Muvhunzi, asked Sagar Farming for land for the nuns.
Swales said an unidentified nun from Father O’Hea Memorial Hospital in Kutama then brought LA3 forms to be completed.
“We were confused as the wording on these forms was not relevant to our position since the farm had never been listed,” Swales said.
LA3 forms are an agreement to downsize a farm in compliance with government policy that every agriculture region should have a particular farm size. Swales took the forms to the Chinhoyi Arex offices in December the same year seeking clarification.
It was then that Muvhunzi disclosed that Chanetsa wanted the nuns to get half of the farm.
“After looking at the forms, Muvhunzi said the portion we had offered the nuns for use was not good enough,” Swales said. “He said we should divide more of the farm as the (former) governor (Peter Chanetsa) wanted the sisters to have half the farm.”
Muvhunzi could not be reached for comment.
This paper was told that Muvhunzi had quit Arex and was now lecturing at Chinhoyi University.
On June 20 2003 a meeting attended by Swales, Maminimini and Zvimba district lands officer, Stanford Katonha, was held at the Ministry of Lands offices in Chinhoyi.
Swales said: “At this meeting, Katonha said the governor for Mashonaland West, Peter Chanetsa, had instructed him to get a subdivision of 340 hectares for the LCBL sisters, or he would gazette the farm and issue a Section 8 (acquisition) order.”
Chanetsa refused to comment saying he was no longer in government. “I cannot speak on behalf of the government because I am no longer the governor,” Chanetsa said. “When I retired in November last year, I left all government issues, therefore go to the incumbent governor and ask him.”
In a letter carried in this paper on June 11, Maminimini said she wanted the farm seizure to be kept a secret “to prevent confusion”.
“The agreement between Swales and us that farm issues should only be discussed with the regional superior and myself was to prevent confusion in administration,” Maminimini said.