BULAWAYO — The land ownership wrangle between Mahlaba Housing Programme (MHP) and Gamange (Private) Limited has taken a new twist after government compulsorily took over the disputed property.
Secretary for Lands and Rural Resettlement Sophia Tsvakwi wrote to the Registrar of Bulawayo High Court recently advising that government had compulsorily acquired the whole of subdivision L of Helenvale Block in Bulawayo measuring 1 237 hectares.
“We wish to advise that this ministry has received instructions to compulsorily acquire the whole of subdivision L of Helenvale Block measuring 1 237, 2 717 hectares from the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing for the purpose of urban development,” Tsvakwi wrote.
“The notice to gazette the piece of land shall appear in the Government Gazette and local newspapers in due course.”
Bulawayo High Court judge, Justice Maxwell Takuva last Friday also granted a provisional order in an urgent chamber application filed by Gamange (Private) Ltd.
The ruling meant that MHP subsidiary, River Valley Properties (Private) Ltd, a property developer which had been developing the stands on the land in question for the benefit of thousands of civil servants, would immediately cease operations.
But River Valley Properties, through its lawyer Nelson Mashizha, has since appealed at the Supreme Court against Justice Takuva’s ruling, thereby superseding the initial provisional order issued by the High Court.
Part of the appeal read: “The court a quo erred at law in granting the provisional order sought by Gamange (Private) Ltd when the matter was not urgent and when it is clear that the certificate of urgency was invalid such that there was no urgent chamber application before the court.
“The court a quo erred at law by granting the order when it was clear that the relief sought by Gamange (Private) Ltd was the same both in the interim order
and in the final order sought. The court a quo erred grossly at law and on facts in holding that Gamange (Private) Ltd had established a prima facie right to the land in question in view of the latest development to the effect that the land in question had already been gazetted for compulsory acquisition by the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement in the Government Gazette and published in the Chronicle Newspaper.”
Johnson Sibanda, through his property company Gamange (Private) Ltd, filed an urgent chamber application last week seeking to interdict the owner of MHP, Gweru businesswoman Smelly Dube, her business partner Limukani Sibanda, Minister of State for Provincial Affairs in Bulawayo Eunice Moyo and the Surveyor-General from further developing the disputed area.