The High Court has dismissed an application by Chief Felix Nhlanhla Ndiweni who accused Home Affairs and Culture Minister Dr Obert Mpofu of working with Zanu-PF’s Matabeleland North chairperson Richard Moyo to seize vehicles and irrigation equipment worth $600 000 belonging to the Umguza Community Share Ownership Trust (CSOT).
Chief Ndiweni through his lawyer, Mr Dumisani Dube of Mathonsi Ncube Law Chambers, had filed an urgent chamber application at the Bulawayo High Court citing Dr Mpofu, Moyo, Umguza Rural District Council and 11 Zanu-PF members, as respondents.
The chief, who purported to act on behalf of the Umguza CSOT, sought an order directing the respondents to relinquish control of a UD truck, a Toyota Hilux pick-up, 12 drilling rods, five hydraulic pipes, a borehole pump and drum compressors, among others.
Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Martin Makonese however, ruled that the application lacked merit. “In terms of clause 2.5 of the Deed of Trust of the Umguza CSOT, it is provided that the founding trustees of the trust hold and administer the trust assets upon the terms and conditions as set out in the Deed of Trust,” he said.
The judge said Chief Ndiweni has been wrongly cited as an applicant because he is not authorised to institute proceedings on behalf of the trust.
“It (trust) acts through the agency of the trustees as provided for in the Deed of Trust. It is not the prerogative of one person to decide on matters involving the trust, and to this end this application suffers a still birth,” ruled Justice Makonese.
The judge said the management and control of the trust rests in trustees whose decisions shall be taken by a majority vote.
“The applicant believes that he is in control of the Umguza CSOT and that he can proceed without a resolution of the trustees. The application is not proper before the court and accordingly be and hereby dismissed with costs,” ruled Justice Makonese.
In his founding affidavit, Chief Ndiweni said a group of Zanu-PF members, operating under Dr Mpofu’s orders, had attempted to stop the trust’s operations.
He said the trust was carrying out a borehole drilling programme in the constituency.
“A few weeks ago, a group of 20 people attempted to stop operations of the applicant. They advised that they were under the instructions of the first respondent (Dr Mpofu) and the second respondent (Moyo). They were chanting revolutionary songs and were visibly drunk and they were violent towards the applicant’s staff at the Umguza Rural District Council Reigate Depot,” he said.
Chief Ndiweni said the group grabbed keys to a drilling rig as well as an assortment of equipment.
“Further, they took keys for a single cab Toyota Hilux and one large truck on the instructions of the first and second respondents,” he said.
He said the vehicle, registration number ADI 8492, was driven to Bulawayo and has been locked up at Dr Mpofu’s premises.
Chief Ndiweni said the police had been reluctant to investigate the matter.
“We have been advised that the only way of quickly gaining our possession and control of our equipment and vehicles is by way of an urgent application for a spoliation order,” he said.
Dr Mpofu recently filed a $300 000 lawsuit against Chief Ndiweni for claiming that the minister stole 200 cattle before making a docket opened against him disappear.
Chief Ndiweni made the remarks while testifying before Bulawayo magistrate Ms Gladmore Mushove in case in which he is facing charges of malicious damage to property. Chief Ndiweni together with 23 other villagers allegedly destroyed homestead belonging to a local villager, Mr Fetti.
He told the court that Dr Mpofu was fighting against him and his co-accused persons because he “stole his father’s 200 cattle.”