Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe

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Bishop, Chief Tandi in land wrangle

Bishop, Chief Tandi in land wrangle

Victory Tabernacle leader Bishop Trevor Manhanga and Chief Tandi have been dragged to the High Court by an aspiring traditional leader, Peter Tandi, who is seeking an order to reverse Lesbury Farm’s acquisition.

BY CHARLES LAITON

Peter Tandi, who is challenging the Tandi chieftainship in another case, argues that the move by the government to acquire Lesbury Farm for resettlement purposes was in violation of the Tandi people’s traditional and cultural rights.

Lesbury Farm is situated 26 kilometres west of Rusape in Makoni West, and was subdivided and allocated to Manhanga, David Nyakonda and the current Chief Tandi, who was born William Samhungu.

“The said demarcation and allocation has the effect of desecrating our traditional sites and shrines. While the land has been owned by white former commercial farmers since 1932, they have always respected our cultural values and left us unhindered in the conduct of our cultural life … The arrangement has continued where a beast is offered by the white man for sacrifice every year and they have played a role of some kind of warden and have protected the sites,” Peter said in his founding affidavit.

In his application, Peter cited Lands, Land Reform and Rural Resettlement minister Douglas Mombeshora, Rural Development, Promotion and Preservation of National Culture and Heritage minister Abednico Ncube, Manhanga, Nyakonda and Samhungu as respondents.

“I have lodged a constitutional application in terms of section 85 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and that application is pending before this honourable court under case number HC4805/17,” Tandi said in his founding affidavit.

“The relief I am seeking in the application is that the acquisition of Lesbury Farm be declared unlawful. The second and fourth respondents (Manhanga and Samhungu) are due to take occupation of the farm on June 1, 2017.

“If the second and fourth respondents take occupation of the farm, I will suffer irreparable harm in that my traditional and cultural rights will inevitably be violated especially by second respondent, who is a bishop of a Christian church whose beliefs are totally opposite from mine.”

Peter Tandi, who is represented by Leonard Chigadza, further said should their sacred sites be tampered with, he, together with many other Tandi people, would suffer misfortunes which might result in deaths once their ancestral spirits were angered.

He also argues that once Manhanga and Samhungu are allowed to take occupation, his constitutional application will be rendered academic and he would not be able to enjoy his constitutional rights.

“Manhanga is the bishop of a Christian church to whom the first respondent (Mombeshora) has purported to allocate a portion of land being the subject of this application, which has on it traditional and sacred sites of the Tandi people,” Peter Tandi said.

“He intends to establish a church literally in the midst of graves and shrines of the Tandi people. We have various holy and sacred places on Lesbury Farm. These include the places we have traditionally buried our chiefs, traditional leaders, spirit mediums and all culturally important people situated on the said farm. We hold various traditional ceremonies on the farm.”

The matter is set to be heard today before High Court judge Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo.

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