High Court stops Kwekwe land sale

Herald Reporter 

THE High Court has stopped the City of Kwekwe from selling a stand in the city centre that it has been leasing to a car dealer after noting that the council had not given the sitting tenant the first option of buying the stand.

Kwekwe City Council, through its town clerk Ms Lucia Mkandhla, had approached the High Court seeking to cancel the lease agreement with Sakhile Mbano after it had sold the stand 1493 Kwekwe to Slice Distributors.

High Court Judge Justice Webster Chinamhora barred the City of Kwekwe from terminating the lease agreement and stopped it from selling the stand. 

Mr Mbano had been running a car sale at the stand.

City of Kwekwe and Mr Mbano entered into a lease agreement in November 2021 where they had agreed that US$300 was to be paid in monthly rent, with the lease terminated by either party on three months notice.

In its application to have the lease agreement cancelled, City of Kwekwe argued that it gave Mr Mbano a three-month notice on May 17, 2022 which was to expire on August 31 last year.

But City of Kwekwe then sold the stand before Mr Mbano left the property, a development confirmed in Ms Mkandhla’s founding affidavit attached to the High Court application. The sale agreement was for vacant possession.

The City of Kwekwe claims that Mr Mbano had stopped paying rentals since August 22.

Irked by City of Kwekwe’s decision to sell the property to Slice Distributors and terminate his lease agreement, Mr Mbano then approached the High Court seeking to have the decision reversed.

In his application, Mr Mbano said that City of Kwekwe sold the stand after failing to give him first preference as a sitting tenant.

“This came as a surprise given that the lease agreement had just been renewed in January 2022,” he said. “As if that was not enough, the reason for the termination was that the City of Kwekwe had resolved to dispose of the stand to facilitate development, however, I had not been afforded an opportunity to purchase the stand as a sitting tenant.”

 He said there was a verbal understanding that he would have first refusal if the city decided to sell.

Mr Mbano also argued that he had written to City of Kwekwe advising it of his willingness and capacity to purchase and develop the stand in question in accordance with City of Kwekwe’s expectations on May 23 last year.

He also claimed that City of Kwekwe’s decision violated his right to be consulted first as the sitting tenant.

The High Court then upheld Mr Mbano’s application and stopped the City of Kwekwe from terminating his lease agreement and selling the stand in question.

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