Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe

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High Court blocks eviction of commercial farmer

High Court blocks eviction of commercial farmer

 

scales-and-gavel

Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
THE High Court has provisionally blocked the eviction of Beitbridge commercial farmer Mr George Watson and his mother from their farm in Gwanda district.

The ruling by Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi yesterday follows an urgent chamber application by Mr Watson and his ailing 73 year-old mother, Mrs Paxie Watson, challenging their eviction from Double “O” Ranch pending an appeal against a ruling by Gwanda magistrate Mr Obedience Matare who had ordered them to vacate the farm by the end of May 2018.

The Watsons through their lawyers Webb, Low and Barry Legal Practitioners, had approached the court seeking an interim staying their eviction from the 2 000 hectares remaining extent of Double “O” Ranch pending an appeal against conviction and sentence.

In a judgment handed down on October 16 this year, Mr Matare convicted Mr Watson and his mother of contravening section 3(3) of the Gazetted Land (Consequential Provisions). He sentenced them to eviction from the 2 000 hectares extent of the farm and fined them $130.

They were given up to today to pay the fine.

Mr Watson, who survived initial eviction attempts in 2003, has been locked in a protracted battle with local politicians and villagers who accused him of failing to co-exist with the community.

The farm, which covers 10 000 hectares, was previously divided into two sections with Mr Watson and his mother remaining with 2 000 ha while 8 000ha were allocated to Siyoka villagers in Beitbridge district.

In papers before the courts, the Watsons cited the State as the respondent.

In his founding affidavit, Mr Watson said the magistrate misdirected himself when he ruled that they were in unlawful occupation of the farm.

He also argued that the magistrate erred when he ruled that the farm was allocated to the Zanu-PF Women’s league without the cancellation of his               permit.

The commercial farmer said the sentence imposed on him induced a sense of shock. He said the State granted him permission to occupy the property.

“The permit was granted to me by the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement (Dr Douglas Mombeshora) and consequently all the requirements for the issuance of a valid permit in terms of the law have been complied with,” he said.

Mr Watson said he was also promised a lease agreement by the Government.

He said his mother suffered a stroke and has no alternative accommodation.

Mr Watsons stated in court papers that he employs a significant amount of people who will be rendered jobless in the event that he is evicted from the farm before the finalisation of the matter.

In October last year, the High Court granted an interim order barring Beitbridge Senator Tambudzani Mohadi and Zanu-PF Matabeleland South provincial chairman Cde Rabelani Choeni from interfering with farming activities at the disputed farm.

The ruling by Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nokuthula Moyo followed an urgent chamber application by Mr Watson who sought a provisional order interdicting Senator Mohadi, Cde Choeni and two other villagers from interfering with activities at his farm also known as the remaining extent of Makhado Ranch.

Senator Mohadi, Cde Choeni, Dr Mombeshora, Mr Amon Ndou, a local councillor, Zanu-PF Women’s League, Headman Hebert Siyoka and the chairperson of the Gwanda district land committee were cited as the respondents.

Justice Moyo said although the provisional order restrained the respondents from visiting Makhado Farm, it however, shall not operate against them when they act in terms of the law.

In December 2014, Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko visited the farm to acquaint himself with banana farming because he wanted it replicated in Matabeleland North.

During the visit, the Vice-President told the local Zanu-PF leadership to co-exist with the Watsons and urged the Gwanda land committee to find a solution to the dispute.

@mashnets

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