via 1500 families to be evicted from Norton after illegal land deal | SW Radio Africa by Tererai Karimakwenda October 3, 2013
The chaotic way in which land is being allocated by government has caused an ugly situation for at least 1500 families, after the High Court gave them 30 days to vacate a housing cooperative they had established in Norton.
In a case that will see thousands of people homeless, the High Court ruled that the Norton cooperative had no legal basis to claim occupation of the land they built their homes on. The legal owner was named as Peter Nicholas Neil.
The land was allocated to the cooperative by the Ministry of Lands and the families had already invested over $200,000 in development costs. They will now lose it all while having to find a new place to live.
Their lawyer, Willshy Nyakudanga, argued that the cooperative was simply a third party who were allocated the property by the Ministry and should not be penalized. But the court saw it differently.
Nyakudanga had asked the court to give his clients 90 days to leave the property, but they were granted only 30 days. However, the owner Peter Neil is said to be willing to negotiate with individuals who may want to buy their plots.
This case highlights the chaotic manner in which land deals are being made in Zimbabwe, with top government officials illegally parcelling out land allocated to them and without title deeds.
Local government Minister Ignatius Chombo has been implicated in many such deals around Harare. But the MDC-T councillors that investigated him failed to convince the courts to prosecute him. Chombo later suspended many of them from the Harare council.
Former MDC-T Councillor for Tafara, Caspar Takura, was part of the team that looked into Chombo’s deals. Takura told SW Radio Africa it is unfortunate that the ordinary people are the ones who suffer when these deals go sour.
He said these illegal deals are widespread and at times civic society steps in to help the victims, but many fear being targeted afterwards.
Regarding Chombo, Takura said: “The Minister is in control of most parts of the country including the traditional leaders, local authorities, provincial councils and now the metropolitan councils. He is in charge of all those offices.”
According to Takura, the report they produced on the Local Government Minister contained evidence and detailed information on some of the illegal land deals he brokered. But Chombo ignores court orders and other legal proceedings, with impunity.