Govt finds land for Whitecliff stand owners Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Minister Monica Mutsvangwa

Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter

THE Government has identified alternative land to allocate thousands of home-seekers who bought residential stands from Whitecliff Farm owner, the late Mr Edward Pfugari, but were unable to take occupation after the farm was compulsorily acquired under operation Garikayi/Hlalani Kuhle.

The Government compulsorily acquired the farm and built more than 300 model houses under operation Garikayi/Hlalani Kuhle before allocating them to thousands of people on the farm near Kuwadzana Extension around 2006.

Operation Garikayi/Hlalani Kuhle was a Government initiated housing plan aimed at resettling people affected by Operation Murambatsvina, a clean up exercise carried out countrywide.

As part of providing accommodation for affected residents whose homes were demolished for non-compliance with the law, Whitecliff Farm was among one of the farms acquired by the Government.

This drew a protracted legal battle between the Government and the late property mogul who challenged the acquisition arguing that it was irregular and that he had sold thousands of residential stands to home-seekers.

The case dragged for long until the Supreme Court eventually ruled in 2015 that the property lawfully belonged to Mr Pfugari and Government had irregularly acquired the farm.

Information Publicity and Broadcasting Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa told journalists during a post-Cabinet briefing this week that Government had identified two farms, Ordar and Stoneridge where people could be allocated stands.

Both farms are in Harare South district.

She said a discussion between the Government and representatives of land owners had been held and a deal struck on payment of compensation.

Minister Mutsvangwa said a compensation of $4, 476 billion had been agreed and it has since been submitted to Treasury.

“Regarding the regularisation of settlements on farms with disputed ownership, the nation is advised that there has been some progress on the options approved by Cabinet at its 34th Meeting held on October 5, 2021.

“On the option of buying out land owners through offer of compensation, with beneficiaries being asked to contribute to the reimbursement of the land value to Government, negotiations with the owner of Whitecliffe Farm were initiated, and a compensation amount of ZW$4,476 billion was submitted to Treasury,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

“The funding is yet to be availed, and deliberations on the modalities of the compensation are ongoing. Pertaining to the allocation of alternative land to affected owners, negotiations have been initiated with the owners of Stoneridge and Ordar Farms.”

At the height of the ensuing land battle, Mr Pfugari, at one stage, won an eviction order and directed the Deputy Sheriff to carry demolitions of houses and schools built on the farm after he had won his case with the Supreme Court.

In 2015, the Supreme Court struck off the roll a challenge by the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement against the Administrative Court’s decision to dismiss Government’s confirmation application for flouting lawful procedures followed on appeals of that nature.

The procedure is that a party can only appeal against an interlocutory order after applying for leave to do so.

But the Government went straight to the Supreme Court resulting in the matter being struck off the roll.

This subsequently opened negotiations between the Government and Mr Pfugari to explore ways to end the impasse.

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