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ZPRA ex-combatants seek audience with Mnangagwa over seized properties

Former ZPRA combatants are seeking another audience with President Emmerson Mnangagwa to follow up on the promise that they will be handed back their properties which were confiscated by the former president Robert Mugabe`s administration.  

The former freedom fighters met President Mnangagwa at the State House in July 23, 2019, where a delegation of seven people engaged him and his Vice President, Kembo Mohadi over the properties.

In that meeting, Mnangagwa allegedly promised to lift the Caveat Act that was used to seize their properties when ZPRA was regarded as an enemy of the state in the 1980s.

But six months later, they have not yet heard from the president.

ZPRA Veterans Association, secretary-general Baster Magwizi confirmed they intend to reengage the president on the matter.

“We are seeking an audience with Mnangagwa and it is up to him to give us the opportunity to come. He’s a busy man, we accept that but we want an audience.

“It’s now six months down the line since our last meeting and there was a promise VP Mohadi would come to talk to us but he hasn’t done so. We feel short-changed by these tactical delays, hence why we have to knock on that door again until something is done,” he said.

Magwizi disclosed the former freedom fighters had identified all their 102 properties and as of last week managed to compile who owned 88 of them.

“We now know who changed hands from which property to the other. We are now in the process of engaging legal advisers and accountants who will look at the loss of revenue on those properties and calculate how best the loss can be restituted,” said the secretary-general.

The ex-ZPRA freedom fighters lost their properties when the government seized them under the Unlawful Organisation Act in 1982 (Caveat No. 15 of 82) and transferred to the President of Zimbabwe in January 1987 (under Caveat No. 56 of 87).

Chairman of Nitram Investments Private Limited, (the entity which purchased the properties) John Gazi said the president ought to have made steps to lift the caveat.

“When is he going to lift the Caveat Act? It has been 32 years since our properties were seized and 30 years since the signing of the Unity Accord and 15 years since the former president, the late Robert Mugabe said he would return our properties. Now, six months have elapsed since our last meeting with Mnangagwa and the law has not changed anything about lifting the caveat,” he told ex-ZPRA cadres in their meeting recently.

Nitram was formed after independence by ZPRA cadres, who contributed monies from their demobilisation payouts and managed to purchase several properties across the country to cater for their welfare.

Gazi noted President Mnangagwa should have used his powers and made a presidential proclamation to lift the Caveat Act.

“We were given back our properties by word of mouth but in reality we received nothing and there is nothing complicated about a presidential proclamation. We understand the president is busy but something must be done. As ZPRA, we have to strategise how to assist the Office of the President and we all know how Caveats were lifted in the past,” he said to the ZPRA veterans who chuckled as they recalled their heydays in battle.

Gazi highlighted that government must not play any tricks on them but return their properties, lest they wanted more negative press attention

“Our plight has received already international attention. We can also approach SADC, the African Union and United Nations but our first option is to re-engage the president, as he acknowledged those are our properties,” the Nitram chairman said.
He lamented that government had lifted the Caveat Act on certain properties that were handed over and sold to other people, yet that was a crime as ZPRA cadres were the rightful owners.

“How can they sell stolen property? Perhaps the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Committee should also look into this matter because these are not just simple properties but they belong to ex-combatants who fought in the liberation struggle.”

Gazi also hinted that some influential individuals were now owners of their properties, which perhaps was a reason why the government was slow in handing them back.

“In 1993, a Caveat was lifted for a 12 000 hectare farm in Matopos and handed over to these big fish or sharks, so if they can do that, they can do this for all our properties,” he said.

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