Chief Court Reporter
Thousands of Zanu-PF youths who have been allocated residential stands at Kingsdale Farm in Norton will now have to vacate the farm after Government conceded in the High Court last week that the land was a private property belonging to Maparahwe Properties Pvt Ltd.Justice Hlekani Mwaeyera granted an interim order stopping the acquisition of the farm with the consent of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere.
Maparahwe Properties had sued Minister Kasukuwere and Urban Development Corporation that had been brought in the farm to oversee the parceling out of the residential stands.
However, during the hearing, Minister Kasukuwere realised that it was legally untenable and constitutionally indefensible to take over the farm in the face of a Constitutional Court order, which ordered Government to withdraw its acquisition of the land.
He did not file papers opposing the interim order.
Minister Kasukuwere had parceled out land to thousands of youths ahead of the Norton by-election. The seat was won by independent candidate Mr Temba Mliswa after trouncing Zanu-PF candidate Cde Ronald Chindedza.
Minister Kasukuwere wanted to take over the piece of land measuring 161, 8238 hectares barely three months after Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Douglas Mombeshora issued a withdrawal notice.
The general notice of withdrawal was published in The Herald of August 3 this year.
In November last of year, the Constitutional Court ordered the State to withdraw its acquisition of Kingsdale farm and to cause the publication of the withdrawal in the Government Gazette and The Herald within 14 days of the order.
“The land…vests in the first applicant (Maparahwe Properties) who shall proceed with urban development of the said land up to the issuance of title surveys in accordance with permits issued or to be issued by relevant town planning authority,” said Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku in concurrence with the other eight judges of the apex court.
“Any agreements of sale between first applicant and any other person as of the 26th of February 2015 (the date of purported acquisition) remain valid and enforceable.”
According to the order, it was agreed between Maparahwe Properties and Government that the former would donate 21 hactares of land in the area covered by Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle Housing scheme and Zesa servitudes. This was done.
In the present urgent application, Maparahwe accused Udcorp of illegally taking over the privately-owned urban land.
Udcorp is a parastatal and was roped in to regularise the processing of urban residential stands in excess of 5 000 hectares.
Through its lawyer Mr Cuthbert Mpame of Mpame and Associates, Maparahwe also sought an order nullifying the appointment of Udcorp as the project managers of the area, adding that Minister Kasukuwere seemed “obsessed with the land and abusing his power.”
The Kingsdale property has been a subject of several court litigations, which resulted in the Constitutional Court in October 2013, issuing an ejectment order for some people, who had invaded the land after the State conceded it had been illegally acquired by the government.