THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has re-tendered a lucrative farming project on its farm in Matabeleland South after frustrating its private partner in the agricultural business, PKD Malindi.
By Bridget Mananavire
NRZ principal property manager, identified in official documents only as L Jiyane, wrote to the owner of PKD Malindi, Pathakahle Dube, advising him to submit his project proposal on the use of Woolendale Farm in Gwanda, stating that the previous agreement had expired, an assertion, which the partner is disputing.
This is despite the fact that the project had failed to take off as a result of illegal settlers who had taken over the land.
Efforts by Dube to take legal action against the settlers were fruitless as the NRZ, who are the owners of the land, refused to jointly sue the villagers.
The embattled state enterprise, which is seeking a fresh investment boost after cabinet terminated its US$400 million revival project with the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG), is also claiming to have terminated a joint venture agreement with PKD Malindi for the use of Woolendale Farm.
The farm was occupied by illegal settlers, scuttling plans by PKD Malindi to conduct profitable business on the property.
Dube, a former Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra) ex-combatant, has been seeking to recoup the money he invested in the agricultural project, which was initially earmarked to commence in 2003.
However, the NRZ says it is only interested in signing a new agreement.
“As noted to you in a number of letters from NRZ to yourselves and as also highlighted in various interactions we have had with you Mr P Dube, the joint venture agreement between PKD Malindi and the NRZ in respect of the above property expired,” the letter from Jiyane, dated May 26, 2020, read.
“We note your continued interest in further developing your proposal on your initially envisaged project. We therefore kindly request you to submit to us your detailed proposal of your planned project for our consideration.”
Jiyane also requested several documents from Dube, including the proposed initial investment, financial performance, returns to stakeholders, proof of similar projects, audited financial statements and other company and financial documents.
Dube said the settlers’ refusal to vacate Woolendale Farm, measuring 1 264 hectares, stalled agricultural projects ranging from cattle breeding, poultry production, market gardening and dog training.
He said he had attained all requisite papers to prove that the joint venture between the NRZ and his company still exists and believes he has strong grounds to be on the land, including certificates from the Deeds Office and Ministry of Finance.
The Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Ministry on January 29 this year wrote a letter informing PKD Malindi that the farm had not been taken over by the government for land resettlement, confirming the farm was still under NRZ ownership.
“We have checked our land database and observed that the farm in question belongs to the National Railways of Zimbabwe and was never acquired by government for land resettlement purposes,” reads a letter signed by D Tshuma on behalf of the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Lands.
The Zimbabwe Land Commission excused itself in the protracted squabble that has dragged on for nearly 15 years, a November 2019 letter seen by this newspaper shows.
“Section 9(3)(b)(i) of the Land Commission Act provides that the Commission shall not investigate a complaint or dispute where the action or omission to which the complaint or dispute relates is the subject matter of proceedings before any court of competent jurisdiction.
“Kindly be advised that the Commission is unable to handle the matter since it was handled before High Court of Zimbabwe case number HH 289/2009 and has been decided by the court. Your case with us has thus been dismissed by the commission on the said grounds,” the letter written by the commission’s acting general manager, one P Chamunorwa, reads.
In response to summons by the commission, the villagers said they approached the office of Vice-President Kembo Mohadi and the Member of Parliament of the area to seek political recourse on the matter.