Tuesday, 15 December 2020

JONATHAN MOYO LOSES FARM WRANGLE

 An attempt by former minister Professor Jonathan Moyo and his wife Beatrice to block a man allocated land on their Mazowe farm which the Government is seeking to repossess was thrown out because the judge found the application not urgent and defective. 

The couple went to the High Court early this year contesting the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement’s decision to repossess Patterson Farm, arguing that the State sold the land to the former minister in 2002 and the outcome of that suit was still pending. 

However, in a ruling on Monday, Justice Esther Muremba dismissed the urgent application fronted by Mrs Moyo.

 The couple sought to block Mr Barclos Mujuru, who was allocated land on the farm, and the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement who allocated the land.

Mrs Moyo used the application for the interdict to also seek to have the withdrawal letter served on her husband in December last year rescinded, arguing it was granted under circumstances lumbered with illegality and abuse of authority. 

But Justice Esther Muremba dismissed the application because Mrs Moyo had no legal standing in the matter.

She did not agree with Mrs Moyo’s legal counsel that she was entitled to protect her rights and interest in the pending review matter. 

The fact that Mrs Moyo had a pending matter did not constitute a real and substantial interest giving her the legal footing to file such an application for an interdict, said Justice Muremba. 

The review sought earlier challenged the ministry’s decision to rescind the offer letter that was issued in favour of Moyo, she said. 

Justice Muremba queried if the offer letter was in the name of Professor Moyo, then what standing did Mrs Moyo have to challenge the withdrawal of the letter. 

If Mrs Moyo was on the farm, then she was riding on the offer letter of her husband, and thus as an individual she has no right to that land. 

It was then the court’s finding that she had no basis to challenge the State for the withdrawal of an offer letter which was issued to her husband. 

“She is just a third party who is in occupation of the land by virtue of being married to the second applicant,” said Justice Muremba. 

“She is farming on the land and her interest is purely economic. This constitutes financial interest, which is only indirect interest and that does not give her locus standi.” 

Turning to Prof Moyo, Justice Muremba found that he did not file an affidavit to show that he was before the court and there was not even a power of attorney by him authorising anyone to act on his behalf in bringing the proceedings before the court. 

The dispute over the farm spilled into the High Court after the Lands Ministry on December 18 served Prof Moyo with a letter withdrawing the land offer of Patterson Farm.

The letter ordered him to wind up all or any operations that he might have started and vacate the farm.

 Aggrieved by the withdrawal of the offer letter, Prof Moyo approached the High Court seeking a review of the decision under the Administrative Justice Act. 

In October this year, Mr Mujuru occupied a portion of Patterson Farm allocated to him, prompting Mrs Moyo to rush to same court for relief. 

Mrs Moyo argued in her urgent application that the portion taken by Mr Mujuru had already been prepared for farming, thus the couple wanted to stop him from interfering with their occupation of the farm pending determination of their application for review. Herald

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