The Bulawayo High Court has dismissed an urgent court application by Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) director Siphosami Malunga and his farming partners for the eviction of ZANU PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu from their farm.
Malunga, Zephaniah Dhlamini and Charles Moyo, who are shareholders of Kershelmar Farm, also known as Esidakeni, in Nyamandlovu District, wanted a court order barring Mpofu from interfering with their farming operations.
They cited Mpofu, his company and his wife Sikhanyisiwe as respondents, but the latter opposed the application.
In her ruling on 11 February 2022, Justice Evangelista Kabasa said that the trio’s application was not urgent. She said:
It is a discretion the court has to exercise judiciously. I am of the considered view that a case for urgency has not been made in casu (in this case).
I, therefore, decline to exercise my discretion in favour of the applicant.
The respondents have asked for punitive costs. I see no justification for such.
There is nothing the applicants have done that deserves censure by an award of punitive costs.
While the norm is that costs follow the cause, the circumstances of this matter persuade me not to make an award for costs.
In the result, the point in limine that the application is not urgent is upheld.
The application is accordingly struck off the roll of urgent matters. There shall be no order as to costs.
Mpofu, through his company Maswelangubo, was allocated a portion of the farm, 145 hectares, by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate, and Rural Resettlement, Anxious Masuka.
In December 2021, Justice Kabasa gave Mpofu a 24-hour ultimatum to vacate the farm or face eviction but Mpofu and his wife appealed the ruling.
Malunga, Moyo and Dhlamini argued in court papers that they bought the farm from white former owners in 2017.
But in December 2020, the Government gave notice of its intention to seize Esidakeni Farm for resettlement.
Zimbabwe’s laws empower the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement to compulsorily acquire land without paying compensation except for improvements.