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Zipra veterans dare Mohadi to act over seized properties

by Staff reporter
17 Jul 2020 at 07:50hrs | Views
FORMER Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (Zipra) combatants have challenged Vice-President Kembo Mohadi (pictured) to prove his mettle in government by facilitating the smooth return of their properties seized by the late former president Robert Mugabe during the Gukurahundi genocide era.

Mugabe's administration seized the multi-million-dollar properties on the back of what it claimed was an operation aimed at destroying bases that the Zipra forces used for "dissident activities".

Sources who attended a highly charged meeting in Bulawayo last week between Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe and members of civil society in the city told the Zimbabwe Independent the former combatants demanded that Mohadi act on the properties.

"We have been treated as children for some time with regard to the issue of the properties that we invested our monies in," an ex-Zipra combatant, who attended the engagement, said. "We demanded these properties when Mugabe was still alive and there was no response from government. They kept quiet. Now it is (President) Emmerson Mnangagwa in charge, they (government) are still quiet. We want what belongs to us given back to us. There is no going back," the ex-combatant added.

Another combatant said it was good that Mnangagwa had delegated Mohadi to handle the matter as he was the only senior member of the present-day government who had clear understanding of how and why the properties were seized.

"It is good that we are speaking to Mohadi who knows the details of what happened. He has been a lame duck in government, but on this one we believe that he will do the right thing and give us back what is owed to us," the ex-combatant said. "We have lost many of our comrades who invested in this initiative that we hoped would help us sustain ourselves post the war of Independence. It is sad to note that most of them died while leading paupers' lives and Mohadi should act to stop this madness from continuing."

The former Zipra freedom fighters told Kazembe they would, in the absence of a satisfactory answer, embark on protests to air their grievances.

"Kazembe, who came to the meeting exuberant, was actually shocked by what the comrades told him. He was advised that demonstrations would be the order of the day until the matter gets the attention it deserves.

"From where he stands, Kazembe is too small to deal with the matter. He told us openly that he would advise Mohadi of the grievances and that we would be told what next steps would be taken by the government in addressing our issues," another excombatant said.

The Independent was also told the ex-combatants had planned to frame their demonstrations under the theme "Zipra lives matter: Give us back our properties".

"We have noted that demonstrations do count when you want results. We have been civil about this, hoping that the powers that be would act. We now realise that we will need, going forward, to take matters into our own hands and demonstrate so that the powers-that-be hear us loud and clear," the source added.

"If Mohadi does not do anything, we will hold demonstrations. Kazembe already knows about these intentions because we told him in the closed-door meeting. We are ready for anything. If it means being arrested, so be it because the time is now that we get what belongs to us."

Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Kazembe confirmed the issue had been raised with him by the ex-combatants, adding he would take up the matter with "the relevant authorities".

"With regard to the Zipra properties issue that you raise, I have made it abundantly clear, loud and clear, that the issue is going to be handled at a much higher level than where I sit and I am not qualified to comment on that issue at the moment. There is a committee headed by Vice-President Mohadi that is dealing with that issue," Kazembe said.

Estimates show that more than 10 000 Zipra combatants contributed ZW$50 each from part of their demobilisation gratuity towards the capitalisation of Nitram Investment Holdings, and the money was spent on acquiring properties that were subsequently seized by the Mugabe administration.

Some of the grabbed properties are Castle Arms Motel in Bulawayo, Nest Egg Farm also in the city, Ascot Farm in Solusi, Wood Glen Farm in Nyamandlovu and Hawton Farm in Gweru.

Other properties include Nijo Farm and Salisbury Motel, the four-storey building popularly known as Magnet House, which is currently the Central Intelligence Organisation headquarters in Bulawayo, current Zanu-PF Bulawayo provincial headquarters, Davis Hall, and Green Haven, an outdoor entertainment facility just outside Bulawayo.

A total of 4 000 head of cattle which were on the affected farms were also grabbed during the state-sponsored seizures.

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