via High Court rules in favour of varsity in land wrangle | The Herald June 24, 2014 by Fidelis Munyoro
Former Glen Avilin Estate owners have had their application challenging the acquisition of their land by Government filed last week thrown out after the High Court found no merit in the case. The farm was allocated to Bindura University of Science Education as part of efforts to increase food productivity and subsidise students’ food.
But former owners of the farm, the trustees of the SOS Children’s Village Association of Zimbabwe, argued that Government did not follow court processes.
Justice Joseph Martin Mafusire dismissed the application with costs.
In his ruling, he accepted submissions by lawyers acting for Mashonaland Central Minister of State Advocate Martin Dinha, Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Dr Douglas Mombeshora and Attorney-General Mr Johannes Tomana who were respondents, that SOS was complaining of the symbolic handover of the farm, which was acquired in 2002.
Justice Mafusire ruled that there was no physical dispossession of the property to warrant the court to order the university vacate the property pending the finalisation of the dispute.
In this case, Government had argued that SOS was still in control of the farm despite the fact that it was acquired more than 10 years ago.
The Government gazetted and acquired the piece of land in 2002 and to date no eviction had taken place at the farm.
Last year, the Ministry of Lands discovered that the farm was lying idle and decided to allocate it to Bindura University.
On February 10 this year, an offer letter was issued to the university before the symbolic handover of the farm two weeks ago.
SOS, a charitable organisation caring for more than 6 500 vulnerable and orphaned children in homes and schools in Bindura, was aggrieved with the development and approached the court seeking a spoliation order.
It argued that the children under its care in Bindura were fed from agricultural produce from Glen Avilin Estate.
During the handover of the farm, Adv Dinha said the 540-hectare farm was critical for the university as it could be used to create a model farm to advance teaching, learning, and research and extension services.
About 215ha of the farm is irrigable, with permanent underground piping.