Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
ZIMBABWE Ezekiel Guti University, a Bindura-based institution run by the Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Africa (Zaoga FIF) church, faces demolition after it emerged that it was built on someone’s gold claims. High Court judge Justice Joseph Musakwa last Thursday ordered the eviction of the church from Barasse Farm where the university was operating from, to enable the claims owner, Mr Charles Chakumba, to conduct his mining activities.
The default judgment was issued after Zaoga FIF failed to further challenge the matter by not attending the pre-trial conference. For Mr Chakumba to properly carry out his business, the university’s state-of-the-art educational facilities and other structures on the premises have to be demolished.
Enrolment had since started and hundreds of students in various faculties are likely to experience disruption of lectures if the situation is not urgently attended to. Mr Chakumba, who stays at Musekwa School in Bindura, was allocated mining claims 31 and 32 under registration number 22441 and 22442, respectively at Barasse Farm by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development in 1994.
He had been operating from the area until 2010 when the church was “erroneously” allocated the same piece of land by Bindura Municipality. Through his lawyer, Mr Vusani Bangidza of Tavenhave and Machingauta law firm, Mr Chakumba issued summons at the High Court in August last year seeking eviction of the church from the piece of land to enable him to carry out his mining activities.
In the summons, Mr Chakumba stated that he was the legitimate owner of the mining claims, adding that Zaoga FIF was barring him from exercising his mining rights. The church also claimed to be the legitimate owners of the piece of land after being allocated by council.
However, Mr Chakumba said, the dispute was resolved by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development that declared him the rightful owner. Despite caution, Mr Chakumba stated, Zaoga refused to vacate the land and was continuously interfering with his right to the mining claims.
Mr Chakumba then instituted legal proceedings to evict the church. In its opposing papers, the university argued that it had been duly allocated the land by Bindura Municipality in 2008.
“The said piece of land was allocated to defendant’s university by the Municipality of Bindura in March 2008 in consultation with the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing,” read the papers.
The church argued that the matter should be dismissed because the summons were filed after the required period of up to three years in terms of the Prescription Act. “Plaintiff became aware of Zegu (Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University’s) occupation of the land in February 2010. On that date the plaintiff’s claim was due.
“During the public consultations that were carried out by the Environment Impact Assessment team to assess the impact of the Zegu project in January 2010, plaintiff did not object to the university project in any way.
“The plaintiff’s summons was served on the defendant on the 19th of August 2015 that is more than three years after the date upon which the claim arose. “In the premises, the plaintiff’s claim is prescribed in terms of the Prescription Act, Chapter8:11,” the church argued.
The church confirmed to the court that it indeed refused to vacate the land because it had also been allocated the same piece of land by council.
Zaoga FIF questioned the propriety decision of the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development declaring Mr Chakumba as the lawful owner of the claims.
“Defendant pleads that its university was never served with any notice of hearing in connection with the said dispute and wonders as to how the said ministry could have resolved same without conducting a full enquiry into the matter, by summoning all parties concerned including officials from the Ministry of Local Government Public Works and National Housing, the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement, Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education and Bindura Municipality,” read the opposing papers.