Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter—
A housing development consortium which sold residential stands to over 20 000 people in Harare South has lost its bid in court to stop businessman Dr Phillip Chiyangwa from reclaiming the land on three farms which he owns. Following a hard-fought High Court hearing on Friday last week, Justice Joseph Mafusire dismissed the urgent bid by Ordar Housing Development Consortium (OHDC) on technical grounds.
The consortium was suing Sensene Investments (Pvt) Ltd, the then Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Ignatius Chombo and Attorney-General Advocate Prince Machaya.
“The application is fatally defective for failure to comply with the rules of the court,” said Justice Mafusire while dismissing the application.
Justice Mafusire also threw out the certificate of urgency by OHDC saying it was invalid and ordered the consortium to pay costs of suit on a higher scale.
The housing consortium comprises 56 corporates that illegally settled over 8 000 people at the farm, which Dr Chiyangwa owns through Sensene.
Government recently returned the farm and two others in the area to Dr Chiyangwa, but the consortium has resisted the business mogul’s move to take over the farms.
OHDC lawyer Mr Tamuka Moyo argued that the decision by the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing to return the farms to Dr Chiyangwa was null and void.
Mr Moyo said Dr Chiyangwa could not claim ownership of the farms since the land had been compulsorily acquired by Government to benefit low-income home seekers.
Dr Chiyangwa had previously refused to negotiate with the consortium,
offering instead to engage directly with the beneficiaries of the stands in relation to compensation.
He threatened to evict stand holders who refused to subject themselves to Sensene.
Through his lawyer, Advocate Thabani Mpofu, Dr Chiyangwa raised preliminary points to sway the judge to reject the relief OHDC sought without going into the merits of the case.
He argued that there was no proper application before the court for want of compliance with rule 241 of the High Court rules.
“The matter is evidently not urgent and is an abuse of court process,” argued Adv Mpofu.
“The applicant has no right recognised by law which it seeks to enforce and accordingly has no cause of action.”
Adv Mpofu brought to the attention of the court factors of the matter that he said were based on patent falsehoods to mislead the court.
He said the application was brought as a cover up after Sensene discovered that some members of the housing consortium had been involved in fraudulent deals.
“Certain members of the applicant (OHDC) have been selling stands that do not belong to them and pocketing the proceeds to the owner’s prejudice,” argued Adv Mpofu.
The application, he further argued, was a desperate bid to indirectly seek the termination of a criminal complaint made which the consortium has to answer to.
Adv Mpofu also attached sample copies of advertisements flighted in the press, to show that OHDC was selling Sensene land to home seekers.