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SA protests disruption of citizens’ farming operations

THE South African ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mlungisi Makalima, has written to government seeking its “immediate” intervention to stop the takeover of two farms in Chegutu and Marondera owned by his country’s citizens.

The farms, according to Makalima, were protected under a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (Bippa) between South Africa and Zimbabwe.

In two diplomatic notes sent to the ministries of Lands, Finance, Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs and Economic Planning and Investment Promotion, Makalima pleaded with the responsible ministries to provide necessary protection to the South Africans being harassed on the farms.

The farms in question are Wantage in Chegutu owned by South African investor Dirk Visagie and Nyamwera farm in Marondera owned by Hellen Newmarch.

Makalima said both Visagie and Newmarch had reported to the South African embassy on September 28 that their farming operations were being disrupted by farm invaders.

“On 28 September 2010 Mr Visagie reported to the embassy that a Mr Mudavanhu has disrupted farming operations by ordering Mr Visagie’s workers to stop watering the crops and feeding the cattle,” reads one of Makalima’s notes.

“Mr Mudavanhu has further sought to harass Mr Visagie by placing five youths at the entrance of the farm thereby not allowing him to enter or exit the farm. Mr Visagie further reports that Mr Mudavanhu has threatened the manager of the farm with violent action and has stated intention of moving into Mr Visagie’s homestead.”

The note further states that Visagie acquired Wantage Farm as a foreign investor and was issued with a “letter of no interest” dated May 12 2001.
Makalima wrote: “Mr Visagie is in further possession of provisional order (case number HC384/06) granted by Judge (Charles) Hungwe in the presence of Mudavanhu and his wife in the Harare High Court interdicting Mr Mudavanhu from interfering with Wantage farm operations; a final order issued by Judge (Tedias) Karwi endorsing the above provisional order and a further provisional order granted by Judge  (Charles) Hungwe (HC6734/07) stating that the “the respondents are hereby interdicted from in any way entering upon Wantage….”

“Mr Visagie finally informs the embassy that he has been acquitted of all charges relating to occupying gazetted land.”
He said despite all these court interdicts, Visagie “continues to be harassed and has found it increasingly difficult to receive a positive reaction from the local police”.

“The embassy wishes to further appeal to the government of the Republic of Zimbabwe to provide the necessary protection to these South African citizens.”

In a separate note, the ambassador said Newmarch had her farm occupied despite a High Court order passed by Judge (Bharat) Patel on May 13 allowing her to remain on her property and continue farming.

A V Matibiri has occupied the entire farm for the past three weeks, the ambassador said.

“In light of the High Court order, Mrs Newmarch was given assurances by Mr Matibiri that she could remain on a section of the farm known as Carlyton Farm (locally known as Nyamwera farm).

“Mrs Newmarch further informs the embassy that her equipment has remained on the farm and that Mr Matibiri has denied her access to the said equipment stating that the equipment now belongs to him,” wrote Makalima.

A Foreign Affairs ministry spokesperson professed ignorance of the note from Makalima. This is not the first time Makalima has written diplomatic notes to government. In July he wrote a note to co-Home Affairs minister Theresa Makone protesting the arrest of two Nyamandlovhu farmers in Matabeleland. The two farmers, Gary Godfrey and Nigel Fawcett were arrested for refusing to vacate designated land.

The farmers were said to be protected by Bippas.


Wongai Zhangazha

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