By A Correspondent- Zanu PF’s Zvimba South legislator and businessman Philip Chiyangwa is challenging the compulsory acquisition of his land in Warren Park, Harare, where the State wants to set up a museum for African liberation.
This is contained in a High Court chamber application where Chiyangwa is challenging the seizure of the land, which measures about 5,5 hectares.
Chiyangwa, the executive chairman of Kilima Investments, the company that owns the property, is accusing the government of pulling out of talks to buy the land, opting instead to grab it and wants the court to issue an order declaring the attempt null and void, unconstitutional and having no justification in an “open and democratic society”.
The land in contention is Stand 9297 Warren Park Township of Warren Park where government is setting up a museum to chronicle Africa’s liberation.
In August, President Emmerson Mnangagwa invited 16 countries to participate in the construction of the museum during the official launch of the first phase of the project.
Chiyangwa said the government was trying to avoid paying for the land by resorting to compulsory acquisition despite making a move to negotiate payment terms earlier.
“It is apparent to the applicant that the respondent is set to forcibly proceed and arbitrarily appropriate applicants property. Applicant contends that the respondent’s conduct is manifestly unconstitutional, wrongful and prejudicial to the applicant’s rights and interests for the following reasons,” Chiyangwa said in his founding affidavit filed on November 12 through his lawyers Mutamangira and Associates.
“The respondents’ conduct is wholly arbitrary, unconstitutional and has no place for justification in an open and democratic society.”
Lands and Agriculture minister, Anxious Masuka, who is cited as the respondent, said in the Government Gazette that he was compulsorily acquiring the land on behalf of the President.
Ironically, Chiyangwa heads a campaign by Zanu PF to raise US$140 million for Mnangagwa’s 2023 re-election campaign. He heads a fundraising committee made up of late Genius “Ginimbi” Kadungure’s ex-wife, Zodwa Mkandla, Everisto Mudhikwa, Codes Scott Sakupwanya,Tafadzwa Musarara and Antony Pote.
Chiyangwa said he was given the land by Harare City Council as restitution for properties the city had grabbed from him. The settlements were agreed and registered before the High Court in 2015.
In his affidavit, Chiyangwa said the head of the Institute of African Knowledge secretariat behind the construction of the museum, Kwame Muzawazi expressed interest in the property.
“The said ambassador Muzawazi advised the applicant’s managing director Brian Chiyangwa of an intention on the part of the Institute of African Knowledge to make an offer for the purchase of applicant’s entire property,” Chiyangwa said.
“Ambassador Muzawazi advised the applicant that the Institute of African Knowledge is a government department in the Office of the President and Cabinet with the responsibility of constructing a museum for the history of African liberation.”
However, nothing came out of the offer, but that did not stop government from “recently engaging the applicant in negotiations for the acquisition of the land”.
“The negotiations have not yet been finalised in producing an agreement, and the parties have agreed on an acceptable offer being tabled by the government. It is untenable that in an open, free, fair and democratic society the government now seeks to renege on negotiations and instead now seeks to emasculate the applicant to part with his property through forcible means by arbitrary application of the law.”
Chiyangwa said he was served with a notice to compulsorily acquire the property on November 3, 2021.
“On November 3, 2021, the applicant through its legal practitioners of record communicated its objection to proposed compulsory acquisition of the property. The respondent has not made any communication to the applicant indicating any change of position notwithstanding the details of objection to compulsory acquisition of the applicants property.”
The businessman planned to construct a world-class shopping complex at the site, which he says will include supermarkets, fuel service station, clothing shops and all types of complementary infrastructure.
“To date, the applicant has invested more than US$10 million and the applicant’s complex nears completion and would have been due for use and access to the public before the end of the year 2021,” he said.
The matter is yet to be heard while Masuka is still to file opposing papers.