Zimbabwe: Mugabe crony, Mutasa, faces arrest

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One of Robert Mugabe’s loyal lieutenants and Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Didymus Mutasa was on Tuesday issued with a warrant of arrest for not turning up in court.

Mutasa failed to testify in Chinhoyi in a land case involving a white commercial farmer charged with refusing to vacate State land. Magistrate Ngoni Nduna had no choice but issue the warrant of arrest.

Mutasa was to testify as a defence witness in the trial of Robert Mckersie, who is accused of refusing to vacate land duly acquired by the State for resettlement purposes. It is a criminal offence to remain in occupation of land without lawful authority under the Gazetted Lands (Consequential Provisions) Act.

Mutasa sent his lawyer, Itai Ndudzo of Mutamangira and Associates, to inform the court that he would not be present as he was in Harare attending the opening of parliament by Mugabe. But defence lawyer Advocate Thabani Mpofu would have non of it as he successfully applied for the minister to be issued with a warrant of arrest, arguing that he had been properly served with the subpoena and that he was disobeying it.

Mckersie, who occupied Chipungu A Farm in Mhangura, is accused of refusing to vacate the property to pave way for a newly-resettled farmer under the land reform programme.

It is the State’s case that Government on September 14, 2005 acquired the farm and Mckersie was served with a notice to vacate by February 4, 2007.

The State alleges that Mckersie was given an additional four months to harvest his crops and was, thus, expected to leave the farm by June 30 in the same year. A crop and animal assessment was done at the farm and the new beneficiary was introduced to the farm manager who was only identified as Landsberg.

According to the State papers, Mckersie did not leave the farm despite the expiry of the deadline and grace period. It is the State’s contention that Mckersie acted unlawfully by continuing to occupy the gazette land.


Meanwhile, a Zimbabwean farmers’ lobby group has condemned a proposal by Mugabe to evict remaining white farmers from their land before elections are held within two years. “It makes a mockery of the power-sharing agreement and the return to law,” Justice for Agriculture spokesman John Worsley Worswick said.

The document, submitted to Zimbabwe’s cabinet by Land Minister Herbert Murerwa, says land seizures should continue and that no “foreigner” should be allowed to own land, ignoring the state’s responsibility to protect Zimbabwe nationals, including whites. But the plan is meeting resistance from members of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change party.

It is unclear how many white farmers remain on their land in Zimbabwe out of the estimated 4,000 in place before the often-violent farm invasions began in 2000. Estimates by farmer groups range between 100 and 400 remaining farmers.

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