Augustine Mukaro/Dumisani Muleya
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s succession battle is assuming new dimensions with reports that retired army general Solomon Mujuru could be moving to block Mugabe’s anointed heir E
mmerson Mnangagwa who has been positioning himself for a take-over.
It is claimed that Mujuru has hired war veterans and youths in the Mashonaland East province to occupy Ruware Farm in Marondera, bought by FSI Agricom from commercial farmers Glen Johnson and Arthur Knight last year.
FSI is linked to business magnate Mutumwa Mawere who is said to be an ally of Mnangagwa.
Mawere however this week denied any political links.
“I am not a part functionary,” he said.
“I am not an office-bearer in the party. I am not part of that story because FSI is a legally-registered body. If the company is sued, I will not be in court,” said Mawere.
Sources said war veterans linked to a group associated with Mujuru occupied the FSI farm in a bid to frustrate what are seen as supporters of the Mnangagwa camp.
FSI managing director Ivan Savala described the occupation of Ruware farm as “politically-motivated” although he would not say who exactly was behind it.
“The purchase of Ruware and eight other farms bought by FSI was done above board with all concerned parties approving it,” Savala said.
“Ruware farm was not even contested or listed for acquisition when we bought it. In fact it had a certificate of no interest when we entered into agreement with the previous owners,” he said.
Savala said when the purchase was concluded last May, the provincial leadership including governor David Karimanzira approved it.
But this week, when FSI approached Karimanzira and the District Administrator to evict the occupiers, the governor demanded to see the transfer documents for the property. Savala said this was surprising since Karimanzira was privy to the circumstances surrounding the sale of the farm.
“It’s ridiculous for anyone to demand our purchase documents and doubt our genuineness now,” he said. “We will only release the documents, even to the governor, when we get clarification as to who needs them. This is a private investment and we have the right to protect it,” he said.
Savala said Karimanzira, who is linked to the Mujuru camp, has also been forced into questioning the developments he had been privy to from the outset.
“The governor was not forthcoming with information as to who is querying our purchase of the farms,” Savala said. “We would not give him the purchase documents before he tells us the source of dissatisfaction,” he said.
Savala said Mashonaland East war veterans’ leader Wilfred Marimo had told FSI that he was instructed by his superiors to invade the farm.
“Marimo told us it was an instruction from above but did not give specific details,” Savala said. “He said he would remove the people anytime when his superiors were satisfied with the set-up. Marimo is actually supplying the over a hundred people invading Ruware farm with food and other basic needs,” he said.
Highly-placed sources said FSI yesterday was in the process of acquiring a peace order against the invaders.
“Police have agreed to help us remove the invaders once we bring the peace order document,” an FSI director said.