PRESIDENT Mugabe’s nephew, Gabriel Mugabe, has laid claim to a farm protected by a bilateral agreement between Germany and Zimbabwe in what could turn into
a diplomatic row between the two countries.
The German embassy in Harare has written to the Foreign Affairs ministry to express its disquiet over the acquisition of Cluny Farm in Makonde. The property is owned by a German national, Franz Alexander Ditze, who bought it in 1994.
Zimbabwe and Germany in 1995 signed the Encouragement and Reciprocal Protection of Investments Agreement, which came into effect in April 2000.
There have been past attempts by various people to force Ditze off his farm.
“The embassy regrets to state that the non-action on the side of the competent authorities of the Republic of Zimbabwe obviously has led some Zimbabwean nationals into believing that they could claim Cluny Farm under the government’s A2 settlement scheme,” the German embassy said in letter to the Foreign Affairs ministry in February.
In September last year the German Foreign ministry summoned Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Berlin, Gift Punungwe, regarding the threat to German-owned properties in Zimbabwe. Punungwe re-affirmed Zimbabwe’s commitment to the bilateral agreement. He also assured the Germans that full compensation would be paid in terms of the agreement if the property was taken by government.
Ditze has since gone to the High Court to ward off Gabriel Mugabe’s moves to evict him. Andrew Mugandiwa of Wintertons is representing Ditze. Last Friday Justice Alfas Chitakunye granted Ditze a provisional order barring Mugabe from evicting him from the farm. He also filed another application on Tuesday challenging the listing of the farm for compulsory acquisition and subsequent eviction under Section 8 of the Land Acquisition Act.
Ditze said the acquisition of the property was irregular. He said the government said it had acquired the farm by order on October 6. The farm had been gazetted for compulsory acquisition on August 8.
Ditze said the order to acquire the farm should have been done within 30 days of the gazetting of the farm.
“It accordingly follows that the order was made after the expiry of the 30-day period. The notice (in the Government Gazette), so I am advised, is irregular and of no legal force and effect,” he said.
The court papers said Mugabe, who is managing director of office furniture manufacturer Byco, visited Cluny Farm on November 4 and told Ditze that he “had been given the farm”.
Ditze, in his sworn affidavit, said Agriculture minister Joseph Made who was in the company of six men, visited the farm the next day and ordered workers to stop working.
“They broke into the farmhouse and conducted a search,” said Ditze. “I do not know what they were looking for. However, nothing was removed from the house.”
Ditze said on Wednesday last week Gabriel Mugabe visited the farm again in the company of three “henchmen”.
“The henchmen were wielding axes and knobkerries. He demanded that I should vacate the farmhouse not later than November 22,” said Ditze.
He has however contended that he has the right to remain on the farm until January 7 next year as stated by the law.