Zimbabwe's High Court has ordered the army chief and his wife to produce bank statements that could show profits from the sale of produce from two farms they allegedly took over illegally. The case is part of the ongoing story of Zimbabwe's land reform program.
General Constantine Chiwenga, commander of the Zimbabwe National Army, and his wife Joscylin, are accused of taking over two high-tech flower and vegetable farms and illegally exporting the produce.
The legal owner of the farms, Roger Staunton, lodged a detailed affidavit with supporting documentation, claiming he was violently forced off his properties.
The High Court on Monday provisionally barred the Chiwengas from selling any more of Mr. Staunton's vegetables and flowers, and ordered them to pay Mr. Staunton for what has already been sold.
Charges have also been filed against the main exporter in Zimbabwe, who shipped roses allegedly stolen from Mr. Staunton to Amsterdam.
This is the first court case involving Zimbabwe's once lucrative flower exports. Zimbabwe's flower industry is only 16 years old, but was worth at least $5 billion a year before seizures of white-owned land began in Februray 2000.
But flower farming is complex, and flowers on many seized farms have died. Industry sources say a few flower farms, which have been taken over by members of the security forces and the elite, are still operating, and the new owners want to export their crops.
The Chiwenga case could determine whether they may do so. If the court says the farms were seized illegally, there may be no market for their output. Importers in Amsterdam say they will not buy what amount to stolen flowers.