Govt hit with US$20bn bill over grabbed properties

Scott Sakupwanya

EX-COMBATANTS from Zapu’s military wing during the armed struggle are demanding US$20 billion as compensation for properties that were confiscated by the government at the height of Gukurahundi.

Some of the land is being parcelled out now and President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ally Scott Sakupwanya has been named as one of the recent beneficiaries of the properties belonging to Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZPRA).

Zapu and ZPRA have been demanding the release of their properties such as farms and buildings that are listed as Caveats in the title deeds for decades, but without success.

In a High Court application filed in Harare last week, ZPRA ex-combatant coordinating committee member, war veteran Fredrick Mutanda and Ben Ncube, the ZPRA chairperson demanded billions as compensation.

They cited Betterbrands Construction, Chaminuka Estates, Broadhaven Construction and Environmental Management Agency as the respondents respectively.

 “However, on June 26, 2020, the late comrade Air Chief Marshal Shiri retired, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement, transferred the eight (8) properties that comprised Nijo to Zanu PF,” the court papers add.

“For 40 years, certain ZPRA properties were transferred to individuals or private developers infringing section 71(3)(c)(ii) of the Constitution…

“Thus, Nijo Produce (Private) Limited was transferred to Chaminuka Estate (Private) Limited without any compensation to the 23 950 ZPRA liberation war ex combatants, who either joined the security sector or were disarmed, demobilised, and did not take part in any armed confrontation.

“Government and white farmers agreed to a financial compensation of US$3,5 billion on properties seized during the fast track resettlement programme 20 years ago.

“Yet, for 40 years the 23 950 ZPRA liberation war ex combatants are still waiting for their properties. Therefore, a financial compensation for the seized and redeveloped properties of US$20 billion is fair and adequate.”

Mnangagwa met ZPRA ex-combatants in 2018 and 2019 where he promised to facilitate the release of the seized properties, but he has reneged on his promise.

“The amount (US$20 billion) was adopted using the most limited, conservative method and it would be possible to increase the amount on the assumption of assets, livestock, the extent of development and production at the time in February 1982, the court papers add.

“Priority is to support survivors and dependants of ZPRA liberation war special forces who contributed all their money but had not completed their education and were forced into civilian life.”

The ex-combatants revealed that Sakupwanya was one of the beneficiaries of the properties.

“Therefore, Nijo, a former thriving enterprise, which has been destroyed, must be returned to its rightful owners, the 23 950 ZPRA liberation war ex combatants, and not bestowed to the ruling party member, one Scot Sakupwanya.”

Sakupwanya, the founder of Better Brands cited in the case, has been accused of abusing gold licences, buying gold and delivering less than 50% to Fidelity Printers and Refiners, smuggling the rest to other countries, costing the country billions of United States dollars in potential revenue annually.

He was named in a July report titled Zimbabwe’s Disappearing Gold: The Case of Mazowe and Penhalonga produced by the Centre for Natural Resource Governance as a gold smuggling kingpin.

Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi once claimed the government would not return the properties because PF Zapu joined Zanu to form Zanu PF under the Unity Accord. 

According to a Zapu inventory, seized party properties include farms and hotels, among them Castle Arms in Bulawayo, Green Haven — a huge entertainment facility along Victoria Falls Road — and several residential properties.

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