Tycoon held hostage over city buildings

MASVINGO — Scores of Zanu PF supporters on Friday demonstrated at a Masvingo-based Indian property tycoon’s offices demanding to take over his buildings.

Tatenda Chitagu

They held him hostage for four hours after plastering his car with protest posters as well as those of President Robert Mugabe.

The Zanu PF supporters, some evicted from one of Lamson Lambart’s buildings in the central business district, accused him of having “too many buildings in Masvingo at the expense of the locals”.

The boisterous youths, some clad in Zanu PF regalia, first demonstrated at the building where they were evicted after Lambart obtained a High Court order following their refusal to vacate.

They then proceeded to his offices along Robert Mugabe Way and started singing, sloganeering and beating drums, demanding to take over some of his buildings in town. The demonstrators also plastered his car with placards, as well as Mugabe posters and they stayed put at the entrance of his locked premises, baying for his blood.

Fearing for his life, Lambart — who also suffered the same fate in 2007 after war veterans besieged his offices — locked himself in. The youths said his ownership of several buildings in Masvingo City was in contradiction to Mugabe’s indigenisation drive, where locals should have 51% ownership in foreign owned company.

“He owns almost every building in Masvingo,” Matilda Kamoyo, a Zanu PF supporter, who runs a flea market stand, said.

“He has evicted us from one of his buildings and we have nowhere to go. He should lease out one of his buildings to us. He has so many buildings, some of which he did not buy, but just took over from British businesspeople who fled (the liberation) war.”

Some of the posters read: “This is not India, go back to India”, “Give us some of the buildings”, “Masvingo is not yours”. Efforts to get a comment from Lambart proved fruitless at the time of going to print. National Youth Council Masvingo chairperson Talent Chivhange, speaking after the demonstration, said the Zanu PF youths were correct because they wanted to implement Mugabe’s indigenisation policy by venturing into real estate.

“Indigenisation has no limits,” he said. From farm takeovers, that was indigenisation, to the companies, mines — now we have to venture into real estate. This is a guy who is into real estate business which was previously closed to blacks, so we are saying we also want a stake in it.”

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