President Robert Mugabe’s aide, Ray Ndhlukula, is resisting an order restraining him from taking over Centenary Farm in Figtree, in Matabeleland South province, which is owned by a white commercial farmer, David Connolly.
Ndhlukula has accused Connolly of owning several farms, violating Zimbabwe’s land laws.
Ndhlukula, who is the deputy chief secretary in the office of the president and the Cabinet, has had his eye on Connolly’s farm for months leading up to the protracted legal battle.
In June, the Bulawayo High Court granted Connolly an order, barring Ndhlukula from occupying the farm and interfering with its operations pending a determination by the court whether the farm was earmarked for resettlement.
But Ndhlukula has sent several of his workers to the farm in preparation for taking over the property.
In his opposing papers, seen by the Mail & Guardian, Ndhlukula charges that Connolly has no right to be on the farm, saying it was gazetted for the resettlement of landless people. He also claims that Connolly owns more than one farm.
Ndhlukula, who refused to comment, states that he has no intention of defying the provisional order granted on June 17 but insists he was lawfully given the farm, with Mugabe’s authority.
“I personally approached him [Connolly] to advise that the land had been gazetted and offered to me by the minister of lands and resettlement acting under the authority of the president of Zimbabwe, which offer I had accepted and I wanted to take occupation in terms of the law on the 1st of August 2014,” reads part of Ndhlukula’s opposing court papers.
He accused Connolly of misleading the court by claiming that he, Ndhlukula, has evicted workers from the property and refused to allow Connolly to harvest his crops.
He said that, in the past, dispossessed farmers vandalised machinery and equipment. Therefore, he had stationed workers on Connolly’s farm to monitor him. Ndhlukula said Connolly was being “dramatic” and using delaying tactics to continue farming in contravention of the law.