Pfugari drags govt to court over farm

HARARE - A private land developer has dragged government to the Supreme Court over the compulsory expropriation of Whitecliffe Farm in Harare.

Government compulsorily acquired the 1 065 7090-hectare-farm in 2006 to resettle families evicted under the internationally-condemned  Operation Murambatsvina.

Property magnate Eddies Pfugari of Pfugari Properties says the expropriation deprived him of business and is now seeking reprieve through the highest court in the land.

The property developer is seeking among other things a Supreme Court order directing that the expropriation of Whitecliffe Farm in June of 2006 under Section 8 (1) of the Land Acquisition Act (Chapter 20:10) is null and void and of no force and effect.

Pfugari also wants an order declaring a preliminary notice of acquisition issued by the government in September 2004 null and void and of no force and effect.

Pfugari lost the case at the Administrative Court in November 2011 which ruled that government as the duty holder in the provision of housing was right in its decision to compulsorily acquire Whitecliffe.

He has now approached the Supreme Court.

In the notice of appeal dated August 17, 2012, Pfugari said an Administrative Court judge had erred in finding the acquisition of the property was not grossly improper, or unreasonable.

“Take notice that appellant hereby notes an appeal against the whole judgment of the Administrative Court presided over by the honourable president H Mandeya on the 13th of February 2012,” Pfugari’s application says.

“The grounds of appeal are that the learned judge erred and misdirected himself in finding that the decision by the respondent to acquire the property in issue was not grossly improper, unreasonable and so arbitrary that it is inexplicable on the basis of the malafides or failure to apply one’s mind to the facts.”

The ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement is cited as a respondent.

Pfugari also argues the Administrative Court misdirected itself in finding that he had no right to champion the interests of the individual purchasers “when in fact appellant is potentially liable in damages to the individual purchasers”.

“The learned president erred in finding that the individuals who purchased stands from the appellant should have objected to the intended acquisition if they opposed it when in fact respondent had not complied with the law by serving preliminary notices on the individuals.

“Learned president erred by holding that the owners of individual stands at Whitecliffe should have objected to the preliminary notice after it was gazetted when it is clear that the property in issue was not correctly identified in the government gazette since the individuals hold title deeds to their own units which were not identified by the notice,” the developer said in his appeal.

He also contends that the courts failed in its findings that the government had not failed to comply with the legal formalities relating to completion of the acquisition process as stipulated in the Land Acquisition Act (Chapter 20 : 10).

Pfugari is represented by Scanlen and Holderness legal practitioners and the matter will be heard on September 25.

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