The late former President Robert Mugabe’s daughter Bona and her husband Simbarashe Mutsahuni have approached the High Court challenging the Statutory Instrument (SI) 41 of 2020 published to reduce their 1 800-hectare Mazowe farm.
The couple cited Lands minister Anxious Masuka and Attorney-General Prince Machaya as respondents.
This was after Masuka published the Rural Land (Farm Sizes) (Amendment) Regulations, 2020 (No 2) (SI 41 of 2020) on February 14, 2020, to facilitate the reduction of commercial sizes for redistribution to other farmers.
Mutsahuni and his wife said the SI was unconstitutional as the minister failed to consider important issues that were brought about the new law.
“The applicant has a direct interest in this matter, having been affected by the application of the provisions of SI 41 of 2020,” said Mutsahuni in his founding affidavit.
The amendment was done in terms of section 21 of the Land Commission Act (Chapter 20;29) repealing provisions of the Rural Land (Farm Sizes) Regulations, 1999, published in SI 419 of 1999.
In substance, SI 41 of 2020 sought to alter the sizes of land which can be held under the various natural regions in Zimbabwe.
The couple is a holder of an offer letter under Model A2 Phase II, in respect of Subdivision Consolidation measuring 1 804, 9719 hectares of Sigaro Farm, Mazowe district in Mashonaland province, which was granted on June 22, 2017 by the Lands minister.
“Acting in terms of SI 41 of 2020, the minister proceeded to withdraw the aforesaid offer letter with an express intention to reduce the extent of the land which we hold under the offer letter. This was unfair because it is common cause that the new SI came into effect when the old SI 419 of 1999, was in full effect,” Mutsahuni submitted.
“Despite this, it is also common cause that the minister did not adhere to the provisions of these regulations and proceeded to allocate individuals land sizes beyond the prescribed sizes under SI 419 of 1999. Pursuant to the promulgation of SI 41 of 2020, the minister has sought to pursue a rigid adherence to the new farm sizes stated therein.”
Mutsahuni said the SI was arbitrary in that its consequence was that it was applied retrospectively without regard to the nature and extent of investments made by any farmer who historically would have been on the farm.
He said they were not given any discretion to consider the suitability of the prescribed farm size against the extent of any investments made by farmer affected and the extent of utilisation.
The matter is yet to be heard.-