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    Saturday, 27 July 2019

    Msipa Family Trust ‘dupes’ co-operative of US $24 000


    Cephas Msipa




    SIMBARASHE MTEMBO

    HARARE –
    A family trust owned by the late veteran politician and former Midlands Governor, Cephas Msipa has been accused of duping Self Empowerment Housing Cooperative of Gweru of US$24 000 after it allegedly sold it land that belongs to the State.
    This was said during a hearing by the Commission of Inquiry into the matter of Sale of State Land in and around urban areas held in Harare two weeks ago. Ten members of the cooperative some who were close to tears as they narrated their story told the Commission chaired by Justice Uchena that they each bought 2 000 m2 plots from the Msipa Family Trust.
    The plots are at Cheshire Farm which is 10km from Gweru along Gweru – Matobo Road and is run by the family trust. The Trust took over the once dairy farm from Graham Ingle, a white commercial farmer at the height of the fast track land reform programme in 2005.
    Speaking at the hearing Joana Nalube, a member of the co-operative said that they had paid a total of US$24 000 in installments to the Family Trust since 2015. They were charged US$60 000 for the full price of the land. They only realised that they were duped when they tried to get title deeds from Vungu Rural District Council (RDC).
    It was at Vungu RDC that they were told that they were sold State land and there were no title deeds available to them. The Commissioners also confirmed to the co-operative members who hoped to get a reprieve from the hearing that indeed Cheshire Farm was State land and it could not be sold by individuals.
    The members also complained that they were initially allocated land in one corner of the farm but after paying surveyors, clearing the land and erecting a security fence, they were removed and allocated land in another part. They were removed again for the second time to another place after paying a surveyor’s services.
    “My lord we have been moved again to another part of the farm and this time we were just shown a stretch of land as we drove by in a car with the Msipas,” said Nalube.
    The Commission told the co-operative members that one Primrose Chihota who is a member of the Trust had already appeared before the Commission. The co-operative members were shocked to hear that Chihota had told the Commission that the co-operative members were only leasing and nothing had been sold to them.
    Chihota also told the Commissioners that the co-operative members were not putting any structures on the land since their stay was temporary. She also said that the Trust had sunk two boreholes, build 14km road of which 5km are tarred.
    The co-operative members disputed Chihota’s statements and said the arrangement between the two parties was that they had bought the land. They said that it was unrealistic that they would pay $24 000 for leases.
    They also dismissed as lies that the Trust had built a road, sunk two boreholes or is building a dam. They said that there was no development on the farm.
    They said that after giving her evidence to the Commission, Chihota had tried to block them from appearing at the Commission.
    “She sent messages to us saying that our engagement with the Commission had been cancelled. She did not want you to hear our side of the story,” said one of the members.
    They pleaded with the Commission to help them recover their money. They said they no longer have money for lawyers after paying so much to the Trust and the surveyors. The Commission asked its secretariat to refer the co-operative members to Legal Aid.

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