Land scam: Unpacking Southlea Park saga

HARARE - In the past few weeks, the issue of land barons who have raked in millions of dollars illegally selling State and municipal land has dominated space in the media and in social circles as police move in to arrest the suspects.

One of the main land disputes that has rocked the nation is that of the Southlea Park saga where flamboyant businessman Phillip Chiyangwa through his Pinnacle Investments is locked in a bitter battle to control the land with Odar Housing Development Consortium (OHDC).

The two parties have been placing advertisements with both claiming to be the rightful owners of Southlea Park.

The Daily News on Sunday sought to unpack the dispute by speaking to both parties.

Chiyangwa said he acquired the land — Nyarungu Farm and the Odar Farm from the previous owners of the farms whereupon government acquired the land and gave it to the Odar consortium while the property tycoon approached the courts to have the land back.

According to his July 29, 2015, court affidavit, Chiyangwa said he bought the land in question, which was initially owned by Zimbabwe Tobacco Association (ZTA) before it was transferred into his company’s name Sensene Investments (Private) Limited (Sensene).

“Transfer from the Association (ZTA) to Sensene Investments (Private) Limited was recorded at the Deeds office in 2001 before the title deed disappeared around the time of the occupation of the property by the applicant (OHDC),” he said.

He told the Daily News on Sunday that the property was eventually gazetted by the government, which in turn allocated it to OHDC.

“The allocation of the land in terms of the 2006 agreement between the applicant and the government is invalid given that the land had not been acquired by the State and was private property,” Chiyangwa said.

He said that the government only made efforts to acquire the land in 2010 after previous attempts had failed owing to its failure to comply with the land acquisition laws, yet it had already allocated it to the consortium in 2006.

Some of the reasons which prompted government’s failure to acquire the property was that it was not suitable for agricultural resettlement purposes since it was situated in the Harare municipal area.

Chiyangwa challenged the compulsory acquisition of the land without him being paid compensation by the cash-strapped government.

According to a letter written to the secretary for Local Government, Rural and Urban Development, by secretary for Lands and Rural Settlement, Sophia Tsvakwi in February 2010, Chiyangwa was entitled to compensation from the government.

“Your ministry is expected to pay compensation for farms acquired for urban expansion,” Tsvakwi said.

Following the government’s failure to pay Chiyangwa compensation, the consortium later offered to buy the land from the businessman.

Chiyangwa turned down the consortium’s offer.

“The proposal was an insult. Its effect was that whereas applicant (OHDC)’s certain members who had looted land not belonging to them were selling each stand for around $16 000, they were offering second respondent (Sensene) some mere $700 per stand,” Chiyangwa said.

He said that the consortium had not paid compensation for the property but had been selling land to unsuspecting home-seekers and pocketing the proceeds, leading to Chiyangwa reporting criminal charges against the suspects.

Chiyangwa insisted that the land belonged to him.

However, the consortium’s chairman Ben Matenga told the Daily News on Sunday, that the organisation had a right to remain at the farm.

He denied the allegations that the consortium had invaded the land.

“It was after being invited by the government that the companies occupied the land. The consortium did not invade the land,” Matenga said.

He said that the government told the consortium’s members that it would pay for the land through it.

When pressed by the Daily News on Sunday on their claim to the disputed land, Matenga insisted that they had been allocated the farms by government.

And when reminded that government had delisted the land, Matenga said he was not aware and maintained that they had papers to support his claim.

However, in December last year, the secretary for Local Government Public Works and National Housing Joseph Mhakayakora wrote a letter to Chiyangwa’s company Pinnacle Property Holdings (Private)Limited stating that the government had resolved to return Odar Farm to the businessman’s Sensene firm.

“Government of Zimbabwe has resolved to return the Farm Ordar to Sensene Investments (Private) Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pinnacle Property Holdings (Private) Limited.

“Sensene Investments (Private) Limited will receive compensation directly from the occupants and pass ownership accordingly,” Mhakayakora wrote.

According to the letter, Mhakayakora also stated that the government had resolved to return Nyarungu Estate to Chiyangwa’s company Jetmaster Properties (Private) Limited for use in promoting its industrial development.

It was also stated in the letter that the residents who were residing at Nyarungu Estate, were going to be resettled on Subdivision A of Stoneridge.

The resettlement issue was confirmed by Chiyangwa, who said that the process would commence by the end of this month.

Evidence proffered in a recent urgent High Court application that the consortium lost to Chiyangwa, the permanent secretary in the Local Government ministry, George Sifihlapo Mlilo, said in an affidavit that the consortium had no locus standi to bring the application before the court.

“…no documentation has been attached that shows that applicant is legally constituted. This application is therefore null and void.

“The agreement that is being referred to in issue was entered into by the government when the land was privately owned hence that agreement is void at law,” he said.

Chiyangwa said that he had not demanded the land back in the previous years, hoping that he would get compensation from the government.

He also said that he did not want to be seen as going against his fellow Zanu PF members by chasing away the residents from the farm in the hope that they would overwhelmingly vote for his party in previous elections.

“Nyanhongo (Hubert) was the MP then and I allowed him to do what he liked to avoid collision within the party,” Chiyangwa said.

Documents gleaned by the Daily News on Sunday show that actually in the 2013 elections, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai trounced Mugabe in the areas where the consortium is housed.

“He thinks it’s heresy for him to be contested when it is clear that the majority in his party and the country know that he has overstayed and should go,” he said.

Asked why Mugabe now had the nerve to question General Mujuru’s track record, Mandaza said the fallen war hero was “always the only one” who had the guts to challenge the nonagenarian before he died.

“This betrays that they (Zanu PF) always believed that he was a thorn in the flesh, but he was a hero and that cannot be debated. Mujuru’s only problem was that he demanded that Mugabe should go, and to Mugabe that is a crime,” Mandaza added.

On his part, Makoni chose to say, “vanongorotomoka vadhara vacho (the old man is notorious for speaking without thinking)”.

Ironically and despite now bad-mouthing him to no end, Mugabe and Zanu PF unanimously declared him a national hero when he died in 2011, with his massive funeral attracting the biggest crowd ever witnessed at the National Heroes Acre. At the time, nothing negative was said about him and his alleged misdemeanours.

Outspoken war veteran, Margaret Dongo, waded into the matter yesterday, telling the Daily News on Sunday that Mugabe was “well-known” for being scared of the late Mujuru before his death, whose war nom de guerre was Rex Nhongo.

“There is no reason to continue talking about munhu akafa kare, (a person who passed away a long time ago). Mujuru is haunting him. Mugabe feared Mujuru because he knows that he is president because of that man,” she said.

Zanu PF veterans have repeatedly pointed out that it was on Mujuru’s insistence that Mugabe became the party’s leader in 1977, after much resistance from many guerrillas to have the former schoolteacher installed as their president as they did not trust him.

They also say General Mujuru continued to exert his influence on Mugabe and Zanu PF after independence, to the extent that it is widely believed that it was beacause of him that the nonagenarian frustrated the ascendancy of VP Emmerson Mnangagwa to the post in 2004, nudging him to pick his wife Joice.

“Mugabe is not comfortable with the name Mujuru. Now he is talking about the wife, an innocent cadre who was victimised. Mujuru wanted him (Mugabe) gone and he was fed up because these people had failed him and this has nothing to do with ideology.

“At any rate, where is the so-called socialism ideology when there is rampant corruption and suffering in the country? These people are stealing, and why should he blame Mujuru for his dismal performance with regard to running the economy,” Dongo said.

The spokesperson of the “original” Zanu PF (People First), Rugare Gumbo, said it was “tragic that a whole president is trapped in the past”. “It is unfortunate and tragic that the president is always talking about the past, although this is expected because when someone gets old, he only thinks about the past. But Zimbabweans are saying let’s focus on reviving the dying economy,” he said.

“As People First, we don’t want one centre of power, we want team work. We also believe in office terms. It now seems as though Mugabe nemudzimai wake ndivo vavakutonga chete (Mugabe and his wife are governing the country on their own). Is this democracy?

“However, they are wasting their time because Grace will not win anything (presumably after Mugabe’s time in office),” Gumbo said.

Comments (8)

You have written two stories in one. You start on Chiyangwa and end up talking about Makoni and Mandaza

Mukanya waSvosve - 24 August 2015

ndazvionawo wena yaiwe monday bhabharasi!!!!!

FURY - 25 August 2015

Zvakaoma is that still journalism ?

carson macate - 25 August 2015

This is what I may term as a mumbo jumbo of an article. One can not read the head and tail of the narrative. Oh my gosh!!!!!

Chimbwido Warvet - 25 August 2015

Asi makafire maproof readers here kudaily news. Tidanei tikuitirei perfect work not izvi.

Chakwezi - 25 August 2015

Harare South: MDC 1,359, MDC-T 7,472, Zanu PF 20,069 Budiriro: MDC 1,029, MDC-T 13,077, Zanu 5,799 Documents gleaned by the Daily News on Sunday show that actually in the 2013 elections, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai trounced Mugabe in the areas where the consortium is housed. ..(((kkkkkk you lie like Chiyangwa)))

fury - 26 August 2015

Editor unaita mushe iwe! What kind of writing is this?

Patriot - 26 August 2015

i am still to understand how the 52 companies established ODAH Housing given that the guys running it seems untouchable. vakambobva kupi ana Matenga ava koz up to now there is no development, dusty and pathetic roads, no sewer, no tape water

josh tada - 13 June 2017

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