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Southlea Park land battle resurfaces

The battle of ownership for Southlea Park land has resurfaced after Southlea Park Home Owners Association and businessman Philip Chiyangwa went back to the High Court today seeking an order to settle the matter.

The association filed an application two years ago, seeking an order setting aside the transfer of the remainder of Odar Farm from government to Chiyangwa’s company Sensene Investments (Private) Limited (Sensene).

Southlea Park Home Owners Association is the applicant, while Sensene, Local Government minister July Moyo, Attorney General Prince Machaya and Odar Housing Development Consortium, are cited as respondents.

According to court papers, Odar Farm was originally owned by Zimbabwe Tobacco Association (ZTA), a grouping of white farmers.

The ZTA reportedly attempted to transfer the farm to one of its subsidiaries Sensene Investments after the enactment of the Land Acquisition Act (Chapter 20:10), but could not do so since government had placed a caveat on the title deed, as the farm was listed for acquisition.

According to the Association’s president, Nathan Nyambuya, the farm was acquired by government in 2006 after entering into a joint venture agreement with Odar Housing Development Consortium for allocation of residential stands to the Association’s members.

Government gave a directive for the farm not to be reallocated to another party unless Odar Housing Development Consortium breached the agreement.

Nyamuya also said in 2015 they learnt of an agreement that was entered between the Local Government ministry and Sensene which states that the land was returned to the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association, under claims that it belonged to Sensene.

“I submit with respect that a ministerial decision should be fair and reasonable as to have considered the interests of the fourth respondent (Odar Housing Development Consortium),” Nyambuya said.

After the consortium approached the courts challenging the development, Sensene is said to have raised criminal charges against its management committee, which was reportedly harassed to the extent of disowning the agreements that were signed with government.

Chiyangwa challenged the application, claiming the residents do not have locus standi to institute the court proceedings.

He said it appears government had allocated the land to the consortium before the acquisition process, adding that the agreement between the two parties was null and void.

“It is clear that this application is one that has been brought as a fishing expedition without a shred of fact to prove the multiplicity of wrongdoings alleged. It is based on falsehoods and mere speculation. The application is deserving of dismissal on the higher scale of attorney and cliental,” Chiyangwa said.

 

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About Tafara Clayton Mushope

Photographer, intern journalist at ZimOnline News