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Attempted takeover of Boxwell and Banovellum farms: PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 13 December 2014 22:53

Press Release: Update regarding the illegal Invasion and continued contempt of court by Dr. Ray Ndhlukula (Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet) on Centenary Farm; Dr. Benedict Moyo (Chairman of the Matabeleland branch of Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers) on Boxwell Farm; and Mr. Ashton Ndlovu on Banovallum farm;  in the District of Figtree (Bulilima), Matabeleland, Zimbabwe.

 

Further to the continued contempt of court by Dr. Ray Ndhlukula on Centenary Farm, his wife, Mrs. Ndhlukula, told Mr. Daniel Sibanda an employee at the above properties, that “they would be taking over Banovallum and Boxwell farms [where Mr.Michael Conolly has his farming operations], because Michael Conolly had stood by David Conolly in the High Court action against her husband Dr. Ray Ndhlukula.”  This was stated on the 9th September 2014.

 

On the 18th September 2014 a delegation consisting of Mrs. Moyo (District Administrator, Bulilima, Mr. Dodzi (Lands Officer, Bulilima), Inspector Tanatsho (Second in Command Figtree Police) and 5 or 6 unknown individuals visited Boxwell Farm. They informed Mr. Michael Conolly that they had received an instruction from Harare that he was to vacate Boxwell and Banovallum Farms. This delegation did not furnish Mr. Conolly with any written proof of this instruction.

 

The above mentioned properties had in fact been visited by the Minister of Lands, Dr. Mombeshora, his Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Sophie Tsakwi, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mr. P. Zhanda and Dr. Benedict Gilbert Moyo, Chairman of the Matabeleland branch of Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers on the 20th June 2014. During this visit Dr. Mombeshora instructed Mr. Michael Conolly to continue with his dairy production, beef production, stud breeding program, and horticultural farming operations on the property in question.

 

On the 19th September 2014 Mr. Michael Conolly delivered a letter written by our legal representatives to Inspector Tanatsho at the Figtree Police Station outlining the due legal process that needed to be followed according to the Constitution of Zimbabwe before the verbal instruction that had been issued on the 18th September could be carried out.

 

On the 21st October 2014 a summons issued in the name of Benedict Gilbert Moyo (for Boxwell) was served on an employee of Michael Conolly on Boxwell Farm. This summons was applying for an eviction order against the occupants of Boxwell Farm (High Court Case No: 2355/14).

 

Simultaneously a summons issued in the name of Mr. Ashton Ndlovu (for Banovallum) was served on the same employee. This summons was applying for an eviction order against the occupants of Banovallum Farm (High Court Case No: 2354/14).The summons indicated that an eviction order was being sought as the occupants had refused to vacate the properties. It is my understanding that Mr. Ashton Ndlovu was until recently the CEO of Rio Tinto Zimbabwe.

 

A response to these summonses was filed with the High Court on 22nd October 2014.

 

On 10th November 2014, Banovallum Farm was invaded by approximately 30 people from the  Bulilima area who stated that they were there “to protect Conolly” and should any attempt by Dr. Moyo or Mr. Ndlovu be made to come on to the farm they would physically deal with the threat themselves. They then attempted to proceed to Centenary Farm in order to “deal with” the employees of Dr. Ndhlukula still “in occupation of and resident” on the verandah of the Centenary Farmhouse. At this juncture they were cautioned by the Figtree Police and withdrew.

 

 On the 19th November 2014, Banovallum Farm was once again invaded by approximately 70 local people. They stated that their objectives were similar to those of the invaders of the 10th November. Once again the Figtree Police intervened and this time they were arrested and made to run in front of the police vehicle all the way to the police station 9 km away.

 

Investigation of Dr. Moyo for stock theft:

On the 4th December 2014 I attended the regional meeting of the Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers chaired by Dr. Benedict Moyo who is trying to take over my brother’s farm.  At this meeting I was personally attacked by Dr. Moyo who read from his opening address stating the following:

“Sadly, Mr. Conolly, one of the largest Dairy Farmers in the Matabeleland Region, has to go! (Pointing directly at me he continued) Your attitude 34 years after Independence is unacceptable.  You have refused to play ball – you must play ball”. (He then spoke in Ndebele threatening) “Wenauyaziuzalimala!”(“you are going to get hurt!”)

 

Mr. Moyo then continued to insult the “attitudes” of several of the local [black] Dairy Farmers from the dairy Cooperative present in a similar manner. These farmers did not take kindly to his accusations and asked him what he meant by his statement “playing ball”. They stated he had no right to remove their refrigerated milk storage tank without their knowledge.  They also accused him of stealing the dairy heifers allocated to them from Harare after having Dr. Rachel Stewart confirm that the animals they were given were not those she had inspected in Harare. As a result of these accusations Dr. Moyo stated that he would “stand back” from the position of Chairman of the Association. This “offer” was accepted and Dr. Moyo was replaced.

 

A police report has since been filed against him regarding the stock theft.

 

Continued contempt of court on Centenary Farm:

On, or about, 13th October 2014 I was informed by my Legal representatives that a date had been set down for a hearing of the contempt of Court case against Dr. Ndhlukula (High Court Case 1856/14) on Centenary Farm. This date was set for the 23rd October 2014. Since my Advocate operates both in Zimbabwe and Botswana this date was set down with the agreement of all parties. At 11 am on the 22nd October 2014 I was informed by my Lawyers that the Judge for this case had been called to attend a “Workshop in Harare” and the case was postponed until further notice as a result.Staff members from several Embassies had travelled from Harare to Bulawayo to observe the proceedings.

I also find the timing of the filing of papers on Boxwell and Banovallum intimidatory and vindictive when put into context with the contempt of court case (1856/14).   Sadly, despite continual requests and enquiries by my legal representatives and various Embassy staff a new hearing date for this urgent application has not been granted even though it is now 6 weeks since it was postponed and 4 months since my workers were evicted from their houses.

 

On the 3rd November 2014 a representative of Dr. Ndhlukula’s workforce proceeded to Boxwell Farm and spoke to Mr. Michael Conolly regarding the onion crop growing on Centenary Farm. He asked Mr. Conolly to come and reap the crop. We had not been able to access this crop since the 16th September when all access to Centenary Farm was blocked off and the Figtree Police had refused any assistance. Michael Conolly responded to this request in the form of a Lawyer’s letter ( 11th November 2014) informing Dr. Ndhlukula that he would only return to Centenary Farm to reap the onions on condition that full access to all the facilities was granted in terms ofhe original Court Order. To date there has been no response to this letter despite ongoing deterioration in the crop. Consequently the onions will now be rotting.

 

On the 29th November 2014, I was informed that Dr. Ndhlukula had moved cattle on to Centenary Farm.  Whether he had a vetinary movement permit to control disease or not I am yet to establish. This is willful contempt of point one of the High Court Order quoted below.

 

This High Court order, dated 17thJune 2014 stated the following:

 “Pending the return day, the following relief is granted:

The 1st Respondent (Dr. Ndhlukula) be and is hereby interdicted and barred from taking occupation of, or bringing cattle on to the piece of land, namely a farm known as Subdivision A of Centenary, measuring 1 304, 544 hectares situated in the Bulilima District.

 

It is remarkable to note the capacity of the Figtree Police to remove first 30 people and then arrest 70 people properties [in less than an hour] considering the fact that they were “unable to act” when my workers were being thrown out of their houses in August or when I was being threatened by less than 20 people in my own homestead on the 16th September.

The actual and consequential losses incurred so far as a result of Dr. Ndhlukula’s actions in contempt of the High Court Orderof 20 June 2014,are now running into tens of thousands of dollars.

 

Other points to take note of:

  • Dr. Moyo already has a farm in the Nyamandhlovu area. He allegedly allocated 3 dairy cows to Dr. Ndhlukula.  These were supplied by US Aid -an organization based in Hararewhich supports dairy farmers who are part of the Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers[ZADF]. Dr. Ndhlukula is not a registered Dairy Farmernor is he a member of the ZADF and therefore is not entitled to this aid program.

  • I am reliably informed that Dr. Ndhlukula has sold “his” farm Vlakfontein (Subdivision 2Marula Block, Mangwe) to a senior employee of ZESA despite it being a farm that he was given by government – and it therefore presumably being not his to sell.

  • These incidents are part of a step up in the wider problem of greed and lawlessness in the continued attack on property rights by the political elite in Zimbabwe in recent months.

 

David Conolly, 12th December 2014.

 

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