Goche, a Zanu (PF) senior member and former State Security Minister, allegedly seized Artherstone Farm from the Council and is reportedly subdividing it into plots for sale.
A source in Bindura told The Zimbabwean that the farm used to belong to Goche before he sold it to the municipality. At the time of the sale, Goche is said to have moved to nearby Ceres Farm that he was allocated under the fast track land “redistribution” programme.
The source said council paid Goche for the farm in 2008, and went on to start a poultry project on it. Goche, however, is said to have connived with then Bindura mayor, Martin Dinha, who is now the Provincial Governor and Resident Minister, to repossess the farm without paying anything to council.
“He has now sub-divided the farm and is selling stands of between 400 and 2,000 square metres. This is despite the fact that council was not compensated for the developments it had done on the farm, nor was it reimbursed the money he accepted,” the source said. This has prejudiced council of hundreds of thousands of dollars which it had invested in the chicken project at the farm. The source said council officials who tried to question the deal were victimised, including Town Clerk, Pison Mugogo, who was fired.
“This is what led to the expulsion of Mugogo. Several court orders have been issued to have him reinstated but the Minister of Local Government (Ignatius Chombo) has been ignoring them,” he said.
However, Goche denied he had grabbed the council farm, insisting the property had always been his.
“The farm is there and it has always been my farm. I have the title deeds o that farm. I bought it back in 1988,” he claimed. Goche said he had at one point “donated” a portion of the farm for the construction of Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle houses after the 2005 Operation Murambatsvina that destroyed hundreds of homes and displaced poor home-seekers.
He said he repossessed the farm after realizing that the authority was not carrying out any meaningful development on it. He sold part of the farm to government where Chiwaridzo Township was built, well before the dispute started. The minister also dismissed allegations that he owns two other farms as a beneficiary of the land reform programme.
Former Bindura Mayor, Tinashe Madamombe, said Artherstone Farm remained council property and there was no resolution to dispose of it. He said council was still to do an audit of its farms when Goche repossessed Artherstone. “I think he connived with council officers to get the land back for free,” he said. Madamombe was fired by Chombo on allegations of corruption and abuse of office. Although the Bindura magistrates’ court cleared him of the charges, Chombo refused to reinstate him.Post published in: News