DEFENCE minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, pictured, says the government is working on modalities to return properties which previously belonged to the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra) seized during the political disturbances of 1980s.
This comes after properties belonging to Zapu and its military wing, Zipra, were confiscated by Zanu PF during the Gukurahundi under the Unlawful Organisation Act in 1982 and transferred to the President of Zimbabwe in January 1987.
“This issue of Zipra properties is a legacy issue that is being looked at because, as you may appreciate, the composition of our board brings in Zipra and Zanla (Zanu PF military wing) forces and these issues we hope will be deliberated at that level and an amicable solution will be found. So, we will leave it at that. These are issues that we must address,” Muchinguri-Kashiri told the National Assembly last week.
Muchinguri-Kashiri’s statement comes as Zipra fighters accused the Zanu PF government of disrespecting them after putting in place plans to compensate white commercial farmers booted out of their farms in the early 2000s under the agrarian programme, yet remaining silent on properties seized from the military wing.
In 2019, after meeting with the Zipra veterans’ leadership at the Bulawayo State House, President Emmerson Mnangagwa pledged to return the seized properties.
According to John Gazi the chairperson of Nitram Investments (Private) Limited, a company owned by Zipra veterans, the properties include farms, 4 000 head of cattle, several motor vehicles and more than 30 000 chickens.
Some of the properties include Magnet House which houses the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) Bulawayo headquarters, Kudu Motors, Hampton Farm, Ascot Farm, Nest Egg Farm, Woodyglen Farm, Mbalabala Garage, Nyamandlovu Farm, Snake Park and Salisbury Motel in Harare, among others.
“We met the president on three issues, firstly we wanted the return of seized properties, financial restitution in terms of the period the properties have not been in our possession and the issue of vetting where we said there are more than 20 000 of our Zipra cadres who were not vetted.
“As per the lifting of caveat because the properties were only returned by word of mouth in 2004 by former president Robert Mugabe himself who sent Joseph Msika who was the vice president then. However, the paperwork was never done.
“So, it has taken 15 years before we could get a resolution of this magnitude where the president has committed himself to finally giving us the whole package which entails lifting of the whole caveat,” Gazi told the Daily News in 2019.
Gazi, however, said while the president had committed himself to addressing their grievances, he didn’t give a timeframe.
In 2019, Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi torched a storm when he claimed that the Zapu/Zipra properties now belonged to the government since the signing of the Unity Accord in December 1987 which ended hostilities between PF Zapu and Zanu PF.