BREAKING: Eddies Pfugari dies

PIONEERING black businessman and land development mogul, Eddies Pfugari, has died.

He was 84.

Pfugari who owned Eddie’s Pfugari Properties collapsed and died at his Milton Park home in Harare yesterday.

Born at Howard Mission in Chiweshe in 1934, Pfugari found it rather hilarious that he did not remember his exact birthday.

As a young boy, Pfugari and his siblings were fortunate. They had decent education and all the comforts that came with their rural life.

The entrepreneurial flair and gift to take risks and the desire to create a business was inherent.

His polygamous father, Nyanyiwa, who died in 1978, was rich and was one of the pioneers of rural shops, popularly known as general dealers.

He was issued with a hawkers’ licence in 1938. Pfugari’s mother, Mary, who died in 2010 aged 110 was one of his father’s eight wives.

Pfugari came to Harare, then Salisbury, in the early 1950s immediately obtaining a drivers’ licence, fulfilling his childhood dream.

He worked at a departmental store in Salisbury’s First Street as a driver, before leaving for South Africa.

It was while in South Africa that Pfugari found his love and passion for the property business.

Pfugari eventually returned home in 1962 and bought his first house in Egypt, Highfield.

Just as he was preparing to go back to South Africa, he mysteriously fell ill and all prescribed medicines just did not work.

Guta ra Jehovha (GRJ) church members prayed for him and he said was healed. He never left that church from that day.

The property mogul worked in apartheid South Africa, Rhodesia and Abel Muzorewa’s short-lived Zimbabwe-Rhodesia before establishing one of the first black-owned land development companies in independent Zimbabwe.

In 1963, Pfugari married his second wife Mildred Nhliziyo and had seven children.

Nhliziyo died in 2008.

In 2010, he married Selina Masuka.

Back in the 60’s he also worked for a swimming pool construction company. This was to become his passion for a while.

He opened his first restaurant at Charge Office in Salisbury CBD in 1978.

By 1979, Pfugari opened more restaurants and butcheries down town. He was also happy, the country was to finally become independent in a few months’ time.

But he still craved for more and wanted to put his profits to good use.

In 1998, a now established Pfugari came across another advert also for a farm, Whitecliff, just after Harare’s Kuwadzana Extension high-density suburb.

He bought it by instalments as the white owner did not require cash. Pfugari then applied for permission to develop Whitecliff into a residential area.

The farm was divided into five phases. After completion of the first phase, Pfugari sold 1 000 stands to various homeseekers who were all given title deeds.

A section was also reserved for customers who intended to venture into market gardening.

According to initial plans, the other three phases would kick off at a later stage.

But the investment he thought as another feather on his property development cap would only bring him headaches and sleepless nights.

It is this same farm that has left many people questioning the character Pfugari viewed as “heartless” by those staying at Whitecliff.

But his joy was short-lived as he has spent the better part of the last two decades fighting the very administration that should be supporting his business as part of its black empowerment and indigenisation drive.

Land invaders took a large chunk of his farm, and government did not protect him despite being black and having bought the farm before the land reform.

Government also built at least 300 houses under Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle in the area, while thousands others were allocated residential stands to build homes on their own.

In November 2013, a Supreme Court order in Pfugari’s favour compelled Whitecliff residents to vacate the farm within five days.

Supreme Court judge Justice Vernanda Ziyambi, sitting with Justices Paddington Garwe and Yunus Omerjee, ruled that the disputed land belonged to Pfugari.

The court ordered the Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development and those occupying the land through it to vacate.

But even with the Supreme Court ruling, Whitecliff Farm residents stayed put and on three occasions blocked the deputy sheriff from evicting them.

He spent the last two decades of his life fighting in courts as the Local Government Ministry officials allowed land invaders to grab his Whitecliff farm which he bought with his own money before the land reform programme.

“I am an old man of over 80 and had thought this is my time to rest. Where am I going to begin to ask for a job? I do not think it is the government (that is responsible), but greedy individuals within the government. If the government was against my project, then the courts would not have ruled in my favour,” Pfugari said in a recorded interview in 2016.

“I bought this farm way before the onset of the land reform programme. I acquired this farm in the late 1990s after it had been put up for sale. I sold my two farms in Beatrice to buy this one farm. I applied for a permit for subdivision which was granted. But because no one was able to protect me, authorities allowed the invasion and claimed later that they had acquired it legally. The courts, including the Supreme Court, have ruled against the government, I am not sure how many times now. I have lost count. We have title deeds and every document that is required.

“We did not get support from the previous Local Government minister (Ignatius Chombo), but the current one (Saviour Kasukuwere), they seem willing to talk. It is correct that the previous minister was part of those that agreed to give my land to the illegal settlers so it was his mess and he could not be seen to reverse it. The courts are sticking to the rule of law, but there are individuals frustrating the process.

The late Pfugari in Whitecliff, 2016

“I am not going to surrender. There will be a time when the law will be applied. I am 82 years old and one day things will turn against these settlers. They are being led up the garden path by politicians who probably have an axe to grind with me.

“The law has said they should be removed, but they continue to come. Someday the law will take its course and they must not blame me when the law is implemented, whatever the date. Even if it is 10 or 20 years from now, the law will take its course.

“My children have a right to that land because I bought it legitimately and someone will be called to answer. My children will continue the fight until victory. Someone will pay for it. I am not going to leave. They should have approached me, then we could have talked. But the most infuriating thing is I have to fight a black government after surviving brutal Rhodesia. “

Many described the late Pfugari as unassuming and down to earth.

He was always resplendent in his church uniform, a pair of khaki shorts, matching shirt and socks, and he resembled the pensioner next door.

May his soul rest in peace.

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