New police commissioner-general Godwin Matanga has ordered Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) boss Ephrain Nhamo, who illegally occupied businessman Chris Takura Tande’s Carig Crag estate, to vacate the land immediately in what has been hailed as a sign of the new president’s drift towards upholding the rule of law.
Tande — the managing director of the re-licensed Time Bank — whooped with joy this week when Matanga ordered the officer commanding Mashonaland East police to escort the sheriff to evict the CIO deputy director from the farm — whose lawful owner is Watermount Estates Pvt Ltd.
The farm is bonded to Tande’s Time Bank. Watermount is an affiliate company of the commercial bank.
In a January 17 letter to Tande’s lawyers Nyamayaro Makanza and Bakasa law firm, Matanga told the banker that he can return to his farm in eastern Zimbabwe — grabbed from him in 2005.
“Be advised that I have directed officer commanding police Mashonaland East Province to avail police officers who will escort the sheriff to execute court order HC2100 on behalf of your client,” the acting police chief said in the letter.
The police chief was acting in accordance with the latest Writ of Ejectment issued on January 13 last year against Nhamo, and other senior CIO officers all claiming occupation through him.
The CIO bosses were booted out of the farm on Wednesday. Tande and his family, and many of their workers, were evicted at gunpoint from their farm in the east of the country in 2005 by the CIO bosses loyal to former president Robert Mugabe. Mugabe, 93, was forced to resign in November last year after 37 years in power after a military intervention, in which he was succeeded by his former ally Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The seizure of Tande’s farm in 2005 came just after his commercial bank, Time, was placed under curatorship in 2004 and subsequently its licence was cancelled in 2006. The Administrative Court first reinstated the licence in 2009 but its return was stonewalled by authorities.
Following discussions between the new Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya and Time Bank to address the contentious issues, a resolution has been reached, paving way for re-opening of the bank.
Tande told the Daily News yesterday that Time Bank shall be resuming banking operations in the next six months subject to prior inspections by the RBZ to ensure that the indigenous bank has put in place the necessary capital and banking and IT systems and structures.
Tande said he was thrilled that his 13-year war against his despoliation of his assets was coming to an end and the new administration was calling to order those who engineered the invasion of his property, that he personally bought.
Tande recalled how in 2006 the CIO bosses arrived at his farm brandishing offer letters that had been “allocated” by minister of State for Security Didymus Mutasa, who was also responsible for land reform and resettlement.
He contested the seizure of his private property several times in the courts and won several court judgments which were never enforced.
Despite court orders, the sheriff’s attempt to evict the CIO bosses were met with stiff resistance and violence. The sheriff then tried to enlist the services of the police to escort them to enforce the High Court orders, but former police chief Augustine Chihuri refused to cooperate.
Several letters were written to the police by the sheriff requested for escort but they were snubbed.
After the fall of Chihuri, the sheriff Macduff Madega on December 15 wrote to officer commanding Mashonaland East requesting for police escort to peacefully execute its mandate as stated in the court order and Writ of Execution. The letter was copied to the officer-in-charge of Juru Growth Point and the Police General Headquarters.
Tande’s lawyers stepped up pressure on police in a December 18 letter highlighting that the sheriff tried to evict and faced resistance from the CIO occupants and the sheriff made a formal report at Juru Police Station under RRB number 3340671.
“Such behaviour is unlawful and a clear case of obstruction of justice and contempt of court,” Tande’s lawyers said in the letter to Matanga. “You will note that the court order also specifically provides that the ZRP shall assist the sheriff in the eviction of the occupants in the eviction. In terms of this Constitution of Zimbabwe, no one is above the law and everyone has a duty to uphold the law and abide by court orders.”
On January 17, Matanga then ordered that the CIO bosses be evicted.
Perrance Shiri, the former airforce boss who is the new land and agriculture minister, has called for “unquestionable sanity on the farms.”
“All those who were illegally settled or who just settled themselves on resettlement land should vacate immediately,” Shiri said in a meeting with provincial ministers in Harare.
“Only those people with documentation of land occupancy and or those who were allocated land legitimately should remain on the farms and concentrate on production unhindered.”
Zimbabwe, once a net exporter of grain to southern Africa, has suffered food shortages over the last 17 years as its farming sector has been hit by drought and disruptions linked to the land seizures.