We did not defy govt: SDA

HARARE - Seventh Day Adventist Church (SDA) has denied demanding the removal of villagers to pave way for the construction of their retreat centre, saying they have been leasing the site from the Mazowe Rural District Council since 2011.

While villagers at Plot 28 Omeath E Farm claim to be bona fide beneficiaries of the black empowerment land reform programme, the American-headquartered church also lays claim to the disputed property, until three months ago, the Daily News has learnt.

The church said it had not demanded the removal of any villagers, had not kicked out any villagers before harvest and had not stayed put and defied the government.

“The church constructed buildings and ablution facilities, drilled boreholes and installed water tanks, generators and flood lights, among other improvements,” SDA said in a statement to the Daily News.

“A number of individuals claiming to be war veterans invaded the site.” 

SDA acknowledged that it had been served with a directive by government to leave the piece of land in question, but denied that it had stayed put and thus defied government.

“In December 2013, the church received two letters, both dated 7 November 2-13,” SDA said in the statement.

“The first was addressed to the Mazowe Rural District Council from the ministry of Lands. The second was addressed to the church from the Mazowe Rural Council, advising the church that the site had been relocated with immediate effect, and that the church would be allocated another stand.”

The SDA said at the time the church received the letters, the villagers had already moved onto the site, chased away the security guards appointed by the church and declared themselves the owners of all church assets.

“The church vacated the site,” the SDA statement said. “The church had to engage lawyers to help it retrieve its movable assets from the site, which it did with the assistance of the rural district council. The improvements effected by the church on the land have gone uncompensated.”

According to a letter dated November 7, 2013 seen by this paper, Mazowe council — acting on instructions from the ministry of State For Provincial Affairs — informed the church that it had been allocated land elsewhere.

“This letter serves to inform you that your stand you were allocated by Mazowe Rural District Council is being relocated elsewhere,” reads the letter.

“You shall be informed of the new location in due course. This is with immediate effect.”

While we reported that SDA was defying the directive, the church said it had in fact moved away from that site three months ago, in  line with the government directive.

“All it did was to insist on removing its movable assets,which it is entitled to do,” the SDA statement said.

While we reported that the letters from Mazowe council came after lawyers representing the SDA church had asked for clarification over the ownership in the seizure of the disputed land, the church said the their lawyers never wrote to seek clarity on ownership, but to seek recovery of church assets.

Documents in our possession show that Didymus Mutasa, the minister of State in the President’s Office, wrote to the church, saying the SDA “should be relocated and the A1 beneficiaries should continue carrying (out) their farming operations peacefully,” but the church claims Mutasa never wrote to the church, meaning they did not receive the correspondence in our possession.

“The church has not been allocated another stand by the council,” the SDA statement said.

 

Comments (5)

Daily News has once again been so proud and arrogant to the extent that it cannot offer an apology to the church. The reporter says and i quot 'While we reported that SDA was defying the directive, the church said it had in fact moved away from that site three months ago, in line with the government directive.' He further goes on to admit 'While we reported that the letters from Mazowe council came after lawyers representing the SDA church had asked for clarification over the ownership in the seizure of the disputed land, the church said the their lawyers never wrote to seek clarity on ownership, but to seek recovery of church assets.' He acknowledges this without any apology to the damage done to the SDA and what it stands for.

ob - 4 April 2014

A damaging first page story WAS timely written on a day SDA members in Zimbabwe and abroad were attending Holy Sabbath Services on Saturday the 29th of January. In that story no attempt was done to get official comments from SDA at their nearby Waterfalls office. Amazing Journalism standards from a paper that itself preaches about the 'Right to be heard.' Maybe this is what they mean by 'telling it what it is.' The newspaper erred and admits but cannot apologize. DAILY NEWS by thy works shall ye be judged, even us the common man. For the second week, reference is made of 'american-headquartered' ignoring the fact that in the church, power to make decisions is within the grassroot structures as is written in the SDA manual. Why not mention that the Zim SDA headquarters are in Bulawayo and that in Mashonaland and Manicaland, are in Waterfalls, Harare. This is timely so to present that Zimbabweans SDAs invaded land and are linked to the foreign Western Americans. In God's eyes is neither race no color. We fight not against flesh and blood, but against principalities hence the church will not waste time in defamation lawsuits as we have a Gospel to carry to the world in preparation for Christ's return. Until then, nothing shall separate us from the love of God, even persecution,even poor journalism

ob - 4 April 2014

"The church constructed buildings and ablution facilities, drilled boreholes and installed water tanks, generators and flood lights, among other improvements.“ A number of individuals claiming to be war veterans invaded the site, chased away the security guards appointed by the church and declared themselves the owners of all church assets. Thats the way Zanu & its people operate. They are driven by the politics of envy...even enyving the things of God. Reading this article is seems Daily news which used to pride itself of "telling it as it is" is now at pains to say sorry we got it wrong.

Galore 123 - 4 April 2014

Can man really steal from God ? I hope the new residents of this stand will be able to fully utilise the infrastucture the church put in. Experience however tells us that people who are used to getting things for free do not fully value what they get and so soon enough infrastructure that would have benefited locals will be derelict. The Daily News " journalism " if it can be called that leaves a lot to be desired , one sided stories , no names for the spokespeople quoted , no reference to the local SDA governing organs IN ZIMBABWE .... I could go on .

Ilizwe Lethu - 4 April 2014

Daily News, 'Telling it as it is' what a shame.

observer - 6 April 2014

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