MINISTER’S ARREST OPENS CAN OF WORMS

THE recent arrest of Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs minister Martin Dinha over charges of criminal abuse of office, bribery and money laundering, has opened a can of worms, as it emerged some holders of offer letters for Tzoro Farm in Centenary, have been denied access to the land as government officials allegedly sought to protect former owner Guy Frank Dollar.

Dinha, who is also chairperson of the province’s lands committee, appeared at the Bindura Magistrates Court two weeks ago and was remanded out of custody to October 19 this year for full trial at the High Court.

He is alleged to have demanded $60 000 from Dollar as protection fee to enable him to retain his Tzoro Farm that had been compulsorily acquired by the State in 2002.

In a new development, Harare businessman Nigel Patsanza last week wrote to the Lands and Rural Resettlement ministry, a copy of which was sent to the President’s Office, seeking the intervention of the State to settle the farm ownership wrangle.

Patsanza, who is a holder of an offer letter for a 400-hectare portion of Tzoro Farm, said efforts to settle on the farm since February 2006 had been thwarted by Dollar, as the latter had protection from senior government officials.

“I wrote to the former owner (Dollar) seeking an amicable exit programme. Dollar responded by offering to pay me $21 000 per year “free of risk and no work” for him to remain on the farm. I totally refused his offer as it was not in line with the intended goals of the land reform programme,” Patsanza said.

“After refusing to accept his unscrupulous offer, he (Dollar) made sure I would never set foot on the farm again.”

According to Patsanza, a recent beneficiary list generated by the Lands ministry over allocation of beneficiaries at Tzoro Farm excluded his name, although his offer letter had not been revoked by the State.

“My name is omitted from the beneficiary list produced from your office and yet I am the holder of an authentic offer letter issued on February 3, 2006 and I appear on the official data base in your office,” he said.

At one point, Patsanza said he approached the courts seeking an order to evict Dollar and approached the Lands ministry for assistance, but a senior government official threatened to withdraw his offer letter.

“The director (acquisition) in the Ministry of Lands, Marius Dzinoreva, responded by threatening to withdraw my offer letter and later said I had a right in my personal capacity to cause for an order of eviction to the former (farm) owner.” newsday

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