ZIMBABWE – HARARE – The High Court of Zimbabwe has ruled that the estate of the late General Solomon Mujuru, should pay $1,4 million to the former owners of Ruzambo Farm in Beatrice.
Hanagwe Investments, the former owners of Ruzambo Farm, sued Gen Mujuru over compensation for moveable property that perished in the hands of the late hero when he took over the land under the land reform programme.
The late national hero, for unknown reasons, just sat on the summons and did not even challenge the claim despite provisions available protecting him, until his death in August 2011.
Hanagwe, through its lawyers Gill, Godlonton and Gerrans, filed an application for a default judgment in 2012, which was finally granted in August this year.
High Court judge Justice Mary Dube, ordered Solomon Mujuru posthumously, together with the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement; the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing and the then war veterans leader in Beatrice identified as Cde Zhou to pay $1 469 440 to Hanagwe.
The quartet was also ordered to pay costs of the suit.
However, the two ministers were cited in their official capacities and their property cannot be attached over the case, leaving the estate of the late Gen Mujuru vulnerable. Initially, Hanagwe was claiming $2,1 million, but the court granted the company $1,4 million.
Said Justice Dube: “Whereupon, after reading documents filed of record and hearing counsel, it is ordered that first , second, third and fourth defendants jointly and severally the one paying the others to be absolved:-
“pay to plaintiff $1 469 440 together with interest thereon at the rate of 5 percent per annum from 20 August 2004 to date of payment in full and pay plaintiff’s costs of suit,” the judge ruled.
Hanagwe managing director Mr Guy Watson Smith, deposed an affidavit that formed the basis of the summons claiming the compensation for developments made on the farm before compulsory acquisition of the land for resettlement.
Mr Smith claimed compensation for 311 head of cattle, 487 game animals, seven tractors, four pick-up trucks, three Honda motorcycles, 85 hectares of irrigated tobacco, tonnes of fertiliser, irrigation equipment, tobacco curing equipment, workshop welder and compressor, standby generators, fuel storage tanks, stock feed and an assortment of other farm equipment and accessories worth over $1 million.
According to the summons, in 2001, Hanagwe owned all the moveable assets on the farm.
Between September 18 and December 5 2001, Mr Smith was denied access to the farm by Gen Mujuru, who was the new owner under the land reform programme.
Mr Smith said he was barred from removing his movable assets.
The High Court in 2001 issued a provisional order for the restoration of the assets, but the property was never returned.
That prompted Hanagwe Investments to sue for compensation.
Efforts to contact the executor of the estate of the late Gen Mujuru, Mr Stern Mufara, failed as his mobile phone went unanswered. It took years for the widow of the late national hero to register the estate at the High Court.
Dr Mujuru finally registered the estate after some interested parties had lodged complaints at the office of the Master of High Court citing prejudice.