School sues Gutu RDC over land rights

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CHURCH-RUN, Rufaro High School has sued Gutu Rural District Council for charging a levy for the land the school occupies and is seeking a court declaration of rights to the land and cessation of payment of levies.

BY SILAS NKALA

Rufaro High School filed an application citing Gutu RDC as the respondent.

In a founding affidavit, Jim Rukumba representing the school submitted that: “The applicant is a church-run school. It is run by a church known as Apostolic Faith Mission in Zimbabwe. The church has its presence throughout Zimbabwe and beyond. The church owns the land on which the applicant was built which is situated in the rural areas of Gutu district.

“In other words, the church has title deeds to the farm in which applicant was built. The farm is very big, the full extent of which I am not aware of. However, the applicant only occupies a small portion of the farm.”

Rukumba said over the years the council has been charging the school land development levy by invoking section 96 of the RDC Act. He said the school has been making such payments.

“Pursuant to the claims by the respondent to applicant in 2017, the respondent obtained a default judgment against it…On inquiring the basis of the payment of the levies, the respondent brought our attention to section 96 of the RDC Act. We proceeded to seek an opinion regarding the interpretation of said section vis-a vis the payment of the land development levy by legal persons such as the applicant.”

Rukumba said their lawyers advised that the respondent is only allowed to charge fees or levies when there is a law which says so.

“Our reading of the section clearly shows that the respondent does not fall within the category of persons who have the obligations to pay such levies. He is not the owner of the land in question. The title deeds are in the name of AFM Church,” the founding affidavit read.

The council is yet to respond to the application.