20 April 2017

Zimbabwe: Minister in Contempt of Court Over Land

Photo: Chronicle
Ruling Party national political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere.

Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere has been taken to court for contempt together with the Urban Development Corporation (Udcorp) after they sub-divided a contested piece of land in Pomona into residential stands which they sold.

Augur Investments wants Minister Kasukuwere and Udcorp chief executive officer Mr Bright Mudzvova to be held in contempt of a High Court order after they were interdicted from sub-dividing and selling Stand 654 of Pomona Township, Harare, measuring 250 hectares.

In the court interdict, Augur Investments cited the respondents as Minister Kasukuwere (first), Harare City Council (second), Udcorp (third) and XGMA (fifth).

High Court judge Justice Clement Phiri last December ordered that Chinese company XGMA, the Local Government Ministry and Udcorp stop sub-dividing and selling the land which Augur lawfully received from Harare City Council as part of the payment for construction of Joshua Nkomo Expressway (Airport Road) and other various projects it carried out for the local authority under a written agreement.

Minister Kasukuwere was once quoted in the media claiming that the deals, which were concluded during his predecessor Dr Ignatius Chombo's era, were irregularly done and would launch an investigation.

Lawyers representing Augur Investments, Chinawa Law Chambers, yesterday filed court papers to have Mr Mudzvova held to be in contempt of court for continuing to interfere with its possession of the property as it had continued to sell land to unsuspecting residents.

"Despite the clear, unequivocal and unambiguous terms of the order granted, the respondents exhibited blatant disregard and contempt of this Honourable Court in that they have continued to carry out the very same acts complained of and ordered against by this Honourable Court," reads the papers filed by Augur Investments director, Mr Mike Van Blerk.

Mr Blerk said Udcorp attempted to sell land to Mr Mandla Ndebele where he was called on April 6 2017 to come to their offices to discuss sale transaction.

Mr Ndebele, according to court papers, paid $25 as an administration fee and was taken by Udcorp officials on April 10, 2017 to view the stand before he was advised by security at the site that the property belonged to Augur Investments.

"The respondents have demonstrated a brazen indifference to the authority of this Honourable Court by disregarding the order of this Court," reads the court papers.

"I am advised that the crime of contempt of court is committed intentionally and in relation to administration of justice in the courts. The object of proceedings for contempt is to punish disobedience, so as to enforce an order of court and in particular, orders to do so or abstain from doing a particular act, like the present order."

Augur Investments said failure by Udcorp to comply with the order would render it without remedy.

"It is, therefore, clear that the respondents, unless the Court descends heavily upon them, will continue to undermine the authority of this Honourable Court by disclaiming and disregarding its orders, thereby jeorpadising the integrity of this court in the eyes of the litigating public," said Mr Blerk.

The Ministry is appealing the decision in the Supreme Court on the grounds that Augur did not complete Airport Road project.

In an opposing affidavit, the ministry's permanent secretary Engineer George Mlilo, said Government had repossessed the land because Augur Investments did not finish one of the jobs, a road construction project eventually taken over by the Zimbawe National Roads Administration.


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