BY EVANS MATHANDA
Disgruntled Zipra war veterans say they will now take matters into their own hands because President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is dithering about returning their properties seized during the Gukurahundi atrocities.
Mnangagwa is said to have promised to return the seized properties when he met Zipra war veterans shortly before the November 2017 coup.
Zipra war veterans have been writing letters demanding the release of farms and buildings that were seized by the late Robert Mugabe’s regime during its deadly clampdown against the Joshua Nkomo-led Zapu and its former military wing.
In a letter dated July 20, 2020, Nitram (Pvt) Ltd wrote to Mnangagwa reminding him of his promise to return their properties.
Part of the letter read: “In 48 hours, it will be exactly one year since the meeting, which inspired hope in former Zipra combatants that the new dispensation was going to return our properties.
“Forty eight hours is also the time it takes for a President Proclamation to remove caveats. Our greatest concern since our historic meeting with you Your Excellency is that there have been negative developments in some of our properties namely, Nijo Farm and Snake Park in Harare”
John Gazi, chairperson of Nitram Properties, the company set up by ex-Zipra combatants, said the war veterans had lost patience with the government.
“Disgruntled Zipra war veterans are very angry and this time they are forced to act to take back what belongs to them,” Gazi told The Standard.
“NSSA is corrupt, stealing and distributing our properties to some people through forged documents on how they acquired our land.
Gazi said the Zipra veterans were ready to face any action by the government when they move to retake their properties.
“Our property worth billions is dotted across the country and we can’t suffer yet some thieves are enjoying our benefits,” he said.
“Zanu PF is using NSSA to hold onto our properties by giving them to people who don’t own those properties.”
A Zipra war veteran’s lawyer who requested anonymity for fear of victimisation told this publication that acting Zanu PF commissar Patrick Chinamasa had requested the list of the properties so that he could facilitate the process of returning them.
However, Chinamasa refuted the claims, saying that he did not receive an email that had anything to do with the list of those properties
“I don’t even know what you are talking about and I don’t remember myself communicating with that lawyer,” Chinamasa said before hanging up the phone.
A Zipra war veteran, who also requested anonymity, said one of the properties they will be retaking was a piece of land in Harare’s Glaudina area.
“Last month, NSSA stopped us during the process and one of our members had laid the foundation of his cottage, but this time around, we are not going to listen to anyone,” he said.
“We want to see those who will come to us carrying guns. We are very much prepared. We know Zanu PF tricks by now.”
A NSSA spokesperson told The Standard that there was no need to invade the property as Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Paul Mavima recommended the parcelling out of 50% of the land under dispute to the war veterans.
“NSSA will follow proper legal procedures to avoid unnecessary confrontation,” the official said.
“Our understanding is that the war veterans formed a Trust called Nhaka Yababa to make representations to NSSA for the allocation of stands to the families, who indicated that NSSA purchased part of a piece of land that had been promised to them.
“After the claim by the war veterans, NSSA carried out a due diligence exercise to verify the claims, but it was legally established that the piece of land in dispute was indeed NSSA land and that position was confirmed by the Attorney General.”
The official said an interim agreement was signed between the war veterans and NSSA for the authority to cede the 50% of the property to the war veterans.
“Currently, NSSA is working on the processing of a subdivision permit to legalise the transaction,” NSSA said.
Defence and War Veterans minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri demanded written questions, but had not responded by the time of going to print.