Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
The High Court has nullified notices by Harare City Council to evict and demolish houses belonging to hundreds of families in Budiriro and issued a directive for the local authority to regularise the stay of the affected co-operative members.
Mushamukuru Housing Co-operative members, under the leadership of Mr Simbarashe Chiweshe, on February 2 this year were served with the notices on the basis that the co-operative had no offer letter.
This was after council had sat on a ministerial directive to regularise the co-operative’s papers since 2012.
Council had also approved the servicing of the land and watched the co-operative members occupying the land without any objections.
Approval fees for water, sewer and other works were paid to council, which accepted the money over the years.
Upon being served with the eviction notices, the co-operative members mounted an urgent chamber application at the High Court seeking protection.
Council later made a U-turn and decided not to oppose the court application.
Instead, the parties agreed to shelve eviction and demolition plans.
Justice Herbert Chitapi granted the order with the consent of both parties.
“It is ordered by consent that:
“The respondent, together with all and any persons acting or purporting to act on behalf and/or in its name, be and is hereby interdicted from ejecting and or demolishing the applicant members’ houses on land depicted on plan number TPX 1353 otherwise known as the Remainder of Glen Eagles Farm, Budiriro Town- ship.
“Respondent be and is hereby directed to allocate applicant certain piece of land depicted on Plan Number TPX 1353 otherwise known as the Remainder of Glen Eagles Farm, Budiriro Township.
“The respondent be and is hereby ordered to facilitate the aforesaid allocation of land depicted on Plan Number TPX 1353 to applicant,” ruled Justice Chitapi.
The judgment came barely a week after the same court ruled in the Arlington Farm case that it was illegal for council to demolish or evict people from stands without obtaining a court order.
The co-operative applied for land known as the Remainder of Glen Eagles Farm in Budiriro on December 14 2010.
Council agreed to the allocation of the land to the co-operative in 2011.
The co-operative then initiated the Plan TPX 1353 for the subdivision of the land for residential stands, church and crèche stands.
Council’s Department of Urban Planning Services on June 11 2012, approved the plan in question.
In October the same year, council advertised that it was now going to officially allocate the land to five different co-operatives.
Mushamukuru, which designed the plan, discovered that it was not among the list of beneficiaries and lodged a complaint with council.
A dispute pitting Mushamukuru and other co-operatives ensued resulting in the then Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo intervening.
The minister directed council to allocate the disputed land to Mushamukuru and give the other co-operatives alternative land elsewhere.
The other co-operatives were allocated land in areas like Kuwadzana but council simply allowed Mushamukuru to occupy the land on the strength of the ministerial directive but without issuing it any offer letter until this year when the co-operative was issued with the notices.
The co-operative members had built structures with the bulk of them already in occupation.