Farm row spills into Supreme Court

judge_09Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
The row over control and ownership of Faraway Farm in Goromonzi along Harare-Mutare Road has spilled into the Supreme Court, with BAMPH (Pvt) Ltd — a company owned by businessman Mr Afaras Gwaradzimba — contesting a High Court order confirming Mr Takesure Mbano as the legitimate occupier.

Last month, the Mbano family that once spent days in the open following eviction, had a reprieve after BAMPH (Pvt) Ltd and Mr Gwaradzimba lost their application for eviction of the family in the High Court.

Justice Joseph Musakwa dismissed the application by the company, saying it had no legal standing to file the eviction application because it had no offer letter.

The 24-hectare farm was initially offered to Mr Mbano, a farmer and businessman, under the land reform programme.

However, Mr Mbano had his offer letter withdrawn and the land was offered to Mr Gwaradzimba, who later handed it over to BAMPH (Pvt) Ltd.

In July this year, Mr Mbano raised a complaint with the land acquiring authority over the withdrawal of his offer letter, resulting in Mr Gwaradzimba’s offer letter being withdrawn.

Mr Mbano was then issued with a fresh offer letter which gave him the power to return to the farm.

Despite the fact that Mr Mbano is the current holder of an offer letter for the farm, BAMPH, through its lawyer Mr Farai Zuva of Mhishi Legal Practice, filed a notice of appeal at the Supreme Court challenging the decision of the High Court.

Part of grounds of appeal read:

“The court a quo erred in not finding that, to the extent that the cause before it was premised on the mandated van spoile, which enjoined the appellant to establish exclusive peaceful and undisturbed possession, the appellant was entitled to relief notwithstanding that its title to the property is subject to contestation.

“The court a quo further erred, for the stronger reason, in dismissing the appellant’s cause on the irrelevant basis that the appellant was alien to the protracted dispute of title between the appellant’s proprietor and first respondent when as trite law provides, the appellant was invariably entitled to relief on the basis of its possession and not its proprietor’s.”

BAMPH wants the Supreme Court to set aside the judgment of the High Court in its entirety.

Justice Musakwa, in passing his ruling at the High Court last month, indicated that the initial withdrawal of Mr Mbano’s offer letter and the subsequent issuance of a letter to Mr Gwaradzimba was not clear to the court and remained questionable.

“Going by the manner in which offer letters have swung from Gwaradzimba to the first respondent, it is doubtful that the withdrawal of the offer letter in favour of Mr Gwaradzimba was done in a fair manner, but that is not the issue before me,” Justice Musakwa commented.

The court held that BAMPH had no legal standing to evict Mr Mbano and his family from the farm because neither offer letter nor lease was written under the company’s name.

In any event, Mr Gwaradzimba was the one who was issued with an offer letter and not BAMPH.

The company, according to the judge, had no right to sue Mr Mbano over the land.

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