Mashudu Netsianda Senior Court Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S former ambassador to Botswana and South Africa, Phelekezela Mphoko, has distanced himself from the ongoing land wrangle with a local firm, Terridan Motors (Pvt) Ltd, saying he has no interest in the farm.
In response to an urgent chamber application filed at the Bulawayo High Court by the motoring company through its director, Abslom Mukahiwa, Mphoko said the disputed land was allocated to his son, Siqokoqela, by the Umguza Rural District Council.
In his founding affidavit, Mukahiwa cited Mphoko, whom he accused of abuse of power as the first respondent while Umguza RDC and National Fencing Company are second and third respondents. However, the former ambassador said he had no interest in what is happening at the farm.
“It has come to my attention that the land in question was allocated to my son, Siqokoqela Mphoko, and not me or Choppies Zimbabwe. I’ve been cited in this matter, albeit wrongly as the first respondent. I wasn’t allocated land by Umguza RDC on Plot 13 Douglasdale,” said Mphoko.
“I’m therefore not competent in my personal capacity or as director of Choppies Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd to comment about the dispute between the applicant and Umguza RDC. It’s also not clear why the brand Choppies Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd has been dragged into this matter.”
He said all acts attributed to him by the applicant were wrongful, malicious and false.
Siqokoqela filed a supporting affidavit in the same matter.
He said he was given an offer letter by Umguza RDC in September 2014 in respect of the disputed property and argued that the land was lawfully offered to him.
“I must indicate that on September 26, 2014, I paid in full the amount of $2,500 required by Umguza RDC and immediately after payment, Umguza RDC chief executive officer advised me that the applicant had approached them suggesting that all new occupants must pay for the portion of the fence covering their respective subdivisions,” he said.
Siqokoqela said he indicated that he would not require Terridan Motors’ fence and ordered that it be removed.
He also queried why Choppies Zimbabwe was dragged into the matter and denied that his father was abusing his powers.
“The allegations that first respondent is bullying and perceives himself to be above the law by trampling on the weak and small, robbing them of what they honestly worked for is misplaced as he has no interest in the plot,” said Siqokoqela.
“While I’ve not been cited in these proceedings, I’ve deposed this affidavit to put the record straight in as far as Plot 13 Douglasdale is concerned. It’s evident that I stand to be prejudiced from an interdict arising from this matter.”
Siqokoqela said he intended to employ 40 people at the farm.
Justice Maxwell Takuva on Wednesday granted an interim relief pending the finalisation of the matter after the lapsing of 10 days, which is the stipulated time frame for a respondent to file a notice of opposition.
This was after Terridan Motors sought an interim order barring Mphoko from erecting a fence at the farm and interdicting him from interfering with activities at the farm pending the finalisation of the matter.
The company is accusing Umguza RDC of breach of contract saying the local authority entered into a nine-year lease agreement with the motoring company in 2009 and the lease expires in August 2018.
However, Siqokoqela said he was not shown the court papers.
“It’s my submission that this application is a direct abuse of the court’s process as it lacks truthfulness and its deponent attempts to hoodwink the court into giving him an order by fraudulent means centred on material non-disclosure. The conduct of the applicant is a direct insult to this court’s integrity and I urge the court to display its frustration in respect of such conduct by dismissing the application with an order for costs on a higher scale,” said Siqokoqela.