Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
The now-cancelled allocation of a portion of Farfield Coffees Estate in Chipinge to Mr Rememberance Mbudzana, the son of Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba, was made on the basis of a letter by the minister, the chairperson of Parliament’s portfolio committee on Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement, Gokwe-Nembudziya legislator, Cde Justice Mayor Wadyajena (Zanu PF), said yesterday.
The portfolio committee, after hearing evidence, said the then Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Cde Perrance Shiri, who issued the offer letter for the farm, had been wrongly informed that there was a resolution from the Provincial Lands Committee.
The committee was concerned over a letter that Minister Gwaradzimba wrote to Minister Shiri and said this was irregular given that the Provincial Lands Committee had not yet met to deliberate on the allocation of the farm to Mr Mbudzana.
Cde Wadyajena said Minister Shiri issued the offer letter based on misrepresentation by Minister Gwaradzimba when she wrote a letter purporting that the decision to give Mr Mbudzana the farm was a lands committee recommendation when she had unilaterally made such a decision as the lands committee chairman, as she admitted in her evidence to the Portfolio Committee, saying she intended to regularise the position later.
Acting Provincial Lands Officer Mr Clifford Mukoyi had told the committee in yesterday’s meeting that they did not meet as a Provincial Lands Committee to deliberate on the issue.
He admitted amid grilling from legislators that Minister Gwaradzimba could have been in conflict of interest when she presided over the allocation of a piece of land to her son without the involvement of the Provincial Lands Committee.
Cabinet has since resolved the ownership dispute after it ruled that the initial owner, Mr Richard Le Vieux, stays put at the farm and continues commercial production while alternative land is sought for Mr Mbudzana.
Mr Le Vieux made a lot of investments and production was high at that portion of the farm.
In her evidence, Minister Gwaradzimba said while the Provincial Lands Committee did not meet to deliberate, she was empowered to write on its behalf as its chairperson before she eventually regularised that decision later.
“Yes, Rememberance is my first born son whom I had during the revolution with my late husband.
“Sometimes in January 2019 he was offered that land after he had applied in 2008,” said Minister Gwaradzimba.
She said Mr Mbudzana was given the land after Chief Mapungwana, who had initially been allocated the property, failed to take occupation.
When asked to provide evidence that Mr Mbudzana had applied for land in 2008, Minister Gwaradzimba said she had left documents in her office in Mutare.
Mr Mukoyi said he saw Mr Mbudzana’s application for land made in 2014 but said he could not remember whether it was a fresh application or if it was a renewal.
This riled the committee which queried why both Minister Gwaradzimba and Mr Mukoyi did not bring documentary papers as directed in a letter inviting them to give evidence before the Parliamentary Committee.
Cde Wadyajena also read a letter from Chief Mapungwana who disputed allegations that he did not take occupation of the said farm, saying despite his demand to be shown the farm as per procedure, officials from the Ministry of Lands continued procrastinating, only to hear that Mr Mbudzana had been given the land.
Mr Le Vieux grows macadamia nuts and avocados for export at the estate.