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09-22-2002, 01:15 AM
Chinamasa’s wife grabs prime farm

9/20/02 9:36:49 AM

By Pedzisai Ruhanya Chief Reporter

MONICA Chinamasa, the wife of the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa, has joined other VIPs in the scramble to take over prime farms under the pretext of resettling landless peasants.

Jenni Williams, the spokesperson for Justice for Agriculture, a farmers’ group fighting for the cause of evicted commercial farmers and those facing dispossession, said the minister’s wife arrived on Rockland Farm in Marondera last week and produced a letter from the Lands Committee, dated 28 July 2002, signed by the district administrator. The letter authorised her to take up 432 hectares of the property, which is owned by Peter Baker, and comprises the homestead, all the buildings and the most productive fields. Chinamasa yesterday said his wife had been lawfully allotted the farm in a transparent manner and there was nothing sinister about it.

He said: “I am aware that she was allocated that farm after she applied for it. There is nothing irregular about that because she was legally allocated that land.” Chinamasa said his wife was in the process of occupying her property. She joins other high-ranking Zanu PF officials, senior civil servants, business people and top military officials who have acquired prime land under the government’s controversial fast-track land resettlement programme. The farm, which was issued with a preliminary notice (Section 5) in July, does not have a compulsory notice of acquisition (Section 8) order, Williams said.

Chinamasa early this month threatened to sue South Africa’s Business Day newspaper for publishing an article which said he was allocated Lot 1 of Mirror 2 in Chipinge, and Nyamazura 1 in Mutare. On Wednesday night, Parliament passed the controversial Land Acquisition Amendment Bill after heated debate in which the government conceded it had bungled by failing to serve Section 5 notices to bondholders. The Bill, which now awaits President Mugabe’s assent before it becomes law, seeks to increase fines for commercial farmers who resist eviction and to validate preliminary acquisition orders.But the MDC said the government was only bringing the Bill to overturn recent High Court rulings which had declared Section 8 eviction notices illegal.