ZIMBABWE – HARARE – Two Cabinet ministers, Lands minister Douglas Mombeshora and his mining counterpart Walter Chidhakwa, are facing allegations of defying and undermining Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, and expropriating a mining claim from a key Joice Mujuru ally.
Well-placed sources also say the saga, in addition to the charges of insubordination facing the ministers, also reflects the factional and succession wars devouring the post-congress Zanu PF — in which liberation war cadre and alleged staunch Mujuru ally, Ben Toweka, finds himself caught up in a bitter struggle to reclaim a 50-hectare gold mining claim that was allegedly confiscated by the two ministers.
The grounds for the seizure of the claim are being challenged by Toweka’s lawyers after Chidhakwa claimed that the businessman lost his right to the mining claim after he failed to pay a fee of $3 550 within the 30-day regulatory period, allegations Toweka rejects as crass justification for the snatching of his land.
“We further demand that an investigation be conducted to determine the motive behind your Kadoma office issuing an invoice and thereafter forfeiting the same claims before the period of payment had expired,” Toweka’s lawyer Paul Mangwana argues in a letter to Chidhakwa.
In the meantime, Mphoko recently ordered an investigation into the mining claim which was re-allocated to a Michael Mugavaza, allegedly at the behest of Mombeshora, who is said to enjoy close links with Chidakwa.
And in a letter dated August 17, 2015, Mphoko implored Chidhakwa to give back the mining claim to the “rightful owner Ben Toweka”, adding that, “We request that the offer made to Mr Mugavaza be reversed and restored to Mr Ben Toweka based on the merits of presented facts”.
“Could you also facilitate Mr Ben Toweka to obtain an inspection certificate which had already been paid for and also obtain the ore removal permit.
“You are kindly urged to urgently resolve the matter and forestall any inconvenience caused to the rightful owner Mr Ben Toweka. It is our hope that production at the mine resumes without any further delay,” concludes the letter signed by VP Mphoko which was not heeded. Two months on, since Mphoko’s letter, Toweka is still fighting the ministry of Mines to reclaim his mining claim.
“Despite the fact that we participated in the war, and even as an ordinary citizen of Zimbabwe, it doesn’t mean the ministers can do what they want with our property. All I am asking for is protection of my property as enshrined in the Constitution.
“It’s painful that the people who did not go to war like Chidhakwa and Mombeshora are the people who are now holding us at ransom,” he says.
Zanu PF insiders says Toweka is the latest victim of a number of war veterans associated with former Vice President Joice Mujuru who are losing their mining claims and farms.