Yeukai Karengezeka Court Correspondent
Nephew to late former president Robert Mugabe Mr Robert Zhuwao has approached the High Court challenging the reversal of his offer letter for a 232-hectare farm in Zvimba by the Government.
In the matter, Mr Zhuwao cited Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri in his personal capacity as the respondent.
In his application, Mr Zhuwao is requesting the court to review and set aside Minister Shiri’s decision to withdraw a land offer letter issued to him under the Land Reform and Resettlement Programme in 2004.
“On the 9th of December 2004, I was offered subdivision 1 of Cockington in Zvimba District, in the province of Mashonaland West, which is approximately 232.81 hectares in extent, he said. “The offer was made in terms of the Agricultural Land Resettlement Act (Chapter 20:01). I accepted the offer and a clear contractual agreement between the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Settlement and myself.”
On April 26 last year, Mr Zhuwao was issued with a notice of intention to withdraw the offer letter on allegations that he had abandoned the plot since 2011.
He responded to the notice, but he never received a response on the submissions that he had made and on October 16 he received another letter notifying him of the immediate termination of his contract.
Mr Zhuwao argues that the attributed reasons for cancellation were fabricated.
“Despite all the challenges of vandalism of electrical infrastructure and theft, I have been farming to the best of my farm’s potential in the circumstances,” he said.
“Withdrawing my (offer) letter on the basis of unsubstantiated and spurious allegations without investigating the veracity of such allegations is a gross substantive and procedural irregularity. I am, therefore, not in breach of any of the terms and conditions attached to the offer. Since I was allocated the plot I have been farming tobacco, cereal crops, sunflower and poultry.”
Mr Zhuwao further said the letter was bogus and only the President had the powers to revoke offer letters, hence the need for the court to deal with the matter.
“The letter does not bear the official stamp of the ministry to verify its authenticity,” he said. “Further, the letter does not contain any reasons for the decision. It is simply a cancellation ‘out of the proverbial blue’. It is my considered opinion that this letter is bogus and in any event, unenforceable as it is ultra vires the enabling legislation and it offends the principles of natural justice.
“The respondent has no jurisdiction to withdraw my offer letter because the enabling Act (Agricultural Land Resettlement Act [Chapter 20:01]) does not grant him the powers to do so. It is only the President who can cancel or withdraw offer letters, not the minister.”
The matter is yet to be heard.