BY KENNETH MATIMAIRE
MATABELELAND North Provincial Affairs minister Richard Moyo has been sucked into a fresh farm invasion storm as it emerged he allegedly seized another black-owned farm and parcelled it out to members of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and the Zimbabwe National Army.
Information gathered by the Zimbabwe Independent this week reveals that Moyo, in 2016, settled two CIO operatives on Plot 12 and 16 Honey Bird Kop Farm owned by a black entrepreneur.
Also settled on the same land are four army personnel and three Lands ministry officials who were given pieces of land as a reward for rubber stamping the take-over of the black-owned farm.
The development comes after the state minister was recently caught in a similar scandal where he is accused of grabbing Kershelmar Farms Private Limited, better known as Esidakeni Farm, from Osisa executive director and international human rights lawyer Siphosami Malunga.
Moyo, who appears to be appeasing security services personnel with land, is also said to have allocated Esidakeni to senior intelligence and ruling party stalwarts.
In relation to Honey Bird Kop Farm, Moyo is said to have seized the farm in 2016 and subsequently parcelled out several plots to members of the security services in 2017.
Honey Bird Kop Farm is owned by ex-Zipra combatant John Gazi, which makes it illegal for the government to seize land from a local black person, according to a previous High Court judgment.
In an interview this week, Gazi implicated Moyo as the brains behind his farm grab.
“Matabeleland North Minister of State Richard Moyo led the invasion of my farm in November 2015,” Gazi, who has been on the property for the past 16 years, said.
“They settled CIOs and army people on my farm in 2016. Recently, they put more CIOs (June 2021) on the farm. They were allocated plot 12 and 16,” he added.
Gazi said the State minister has managed to forcefully grab the farm with the collusion of three Lands ministry officials who are also beneficiaries of plots at the farm.
“Moyo targeted it because it attracts more money as a land baron venture. Now it is overpopulated and is more like a residential stand than a farm,” he lamented.
Honey Bird Kop, which measures 1 046 hectares, has great potential for both game and cattle ranching. It has two dams and six boreholes.
The farm is located 40km north of Bulawayo Metropolitan Province.
In a letter dated April 19, 2016, seen by the Independent this week, the former Zipra combatant was labelled an enemy of the state and undeserving of a farm by the provincial lands committee.
“… the provincial land committee believes that you do not deserve land from a government which you wish to topple. Therefore, the provincial land committee recommends that you be removed from the list of beneficiaries at subdivision A of Honey Bird Kop Farm,” a letter from the provincial lands committee Moyo chairs reads.
The letter also indicated that Gazi had initially tried to sue the ministry and other beneficiaries for invasion and was blackmailed with treason charges which were still before the High Court then.
Since then, the farmer has been making frantic efforts to regain control of the property.
“I’m being sent from pillar to post looking to reverse the invasion. To me these are rogue elements that are operating outside the CIO and the role of the minister.
“They are destroying it (the farm) by creating residential plots for land barons led by Richard Moyo,” he said.
However, Moyo vehemently denied the accusations before branding Gazi as a front of white farmers.
He further indicated that the farm in question was gazetted for resettlement in 2000 after it was repossessed by the government.
“He (Gazi) is misleading you. He has been going about telling people that he owns the farm, but that farm was gazetted by the government in 2000. We don’t go around and take farms from other blacks.
“The problem is that people like Gazi are fronts of white people. He was a front of the white man we took the farm from. He was actually in my office two weeks ago,” Moyo said.
He also said Gazi has the right to make a formal complaint with the Lands ministry in Harare if he has issues regarding the farm.