HARARE – Lands minister Douglas Mombeshora has been dragged before the High Court for irregularly withdrawing a Mazowe farmer’s offer letter and handing the farm to an alleged close ally.
The said ally, Regis Giya, is said to have approached the farm occupied by the plaintiff – Ronald Chenjerai — sometime in March and advised that he was taking over the property on the strength of an offer letter grantred by Mombeshora.
Mombeshora, cited as the first respondent in his capacity as the authority responsible for the issuance of offer letters, vehemently denied that he acted outside the law when he withdrew Chenjerai’s offer letter to settle Giya.
Chenjerai, however, argued that an application for the review of the minister’s decision to withdraw the offer letter under case No. HC3220/17 was granted in his favour after Mombeshora and the Zimbabwe Land Commission failed to file opposing papers.
Zimbabwe Land Commission is cited as second respondent.
“Of particular interest in this application is the affidavit deposed by second respondent which supported my aforesaid review application indicating and conceding that the actions of first respondent (Mombeshora) was marred with procedural irregularities and was substantively unfair as the reasons for the withdrawal of the offer letter were manifestly unclear and false,”
Chenjerai said, adding he made an urgent chamber application for an interdict to prevent Giya from entering the farm and to bar Mombeshora from enforcing the withdrawal letter.
“First respondent (Mombeshora) and second respondent (Zimbabwe Land Commission) did not oppose the aforesaid urgent chamber application but surprisingly Giya did so vigorously. The court however ruled in my favour,” Chenjerai argued.
Mombeshora on the other hand insists: “The first respondent (Mombeshora) did not oppose the application for review in the matter HC 3220/17 because he was not disputing the procedural irregularities that surrounded the withdrawal of the applicant’s offer letter. As a result, the order by the applicant was granted and the 1st respondent sought to rectify its earlier irregularities and then went to redo the withdrawal process.”
Chenjerai said he inquired with Mombeshora and the Zimbabwe Land Commission why he was served with notice of intention to withdraw his offer letter and the withdrawal letter at the same time.
“The only conclusion from the conduct of first respondent (Mombeshora) is that there is some collusion between himself and the said …Giya. Initially Giya had been given an offer letter before mine had even been withdrawn…fairness has been thrown to the wind by 1st respondent,” Chenjerai said.
“I have also invested heavily in the land as evident from my farming activities and yet first respondent (Mombeshora) has directed me to vacate the land without compensation or even mention of the same.”
Mombeshora admited that he served Chenjerai with a notice of intention to withdraw his offer letter and the actual withdrawal at the same time.
“This time the first respondent wanted to afford the applicant time to make representations unlike the first time wherein the applicant was served with both the notice of intention to withdraw and the actual withdrawal at the same time,” Mombeshora argued.
“It shall be reiterated that the actions of the first respondent were in conformity to the provisions of administrative law whereby it is necessary to give the other party an opportunity to be heard before making a decision that will affect it.
“It is agreed that once an offer letter has been given, it should not be withdrawn at a whim but by the same measure it should also be noted that the first respondent reserves the right to withdraw or exercise his discretion to withdraw an offer letter where he deems it necessary as long as he does so in a fair and reasonable manner, in this case the above was observed.”