Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Community trust fights SDA Church for school

By Mashudu Netsianda

A COMMUNITY trust group in Nyamandlovu is locked in a protracted legal wrangle with the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) church over the ownership of Nganda SDA Primary School in Umguza district.

Ekukhanyeni Empowerment Trust is accusing the SDA church of registering Nganda SDA Primary School under its name and collecting revenue despite having not contributed any money towards the school’s construction.

The organisation said it contributed $350 000 towards the construction of classroom blocks and teachers’ cottages for the benefit of the community not the SDA church.

The land on which the school was built was initially allocated to the SDA by Umguza Rural District Council before the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education repossessed it.

Ekukhanyeni Empowerment Trust has through its lawyers, Sengweni Legal Practice, filed summons at the Bulawayo High Court citing the SDA church and the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Dr Lazarus Dokora as defendants.

In papers before the court, Ekukhanyeni Empowerment Trust said it was approached by the local community to donate funds for the construction of the school in 2010.

“Sometime in 2010, the plaintiff (Ekukhanyeni Empowerment Trust ) and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education were approached by community leaders of Ward 19 in Nyanda, Nyamandlovu, who requested the plaintiff to build a primary school on a certain piece of land in Umguza district.

As a result of the discussion, the plaintiff and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education constructed three classroom blocks and three staff quarters, erected a perimeter fence and drilled two boreholes all at a cost of $350 000,” said the Ekukhanyeni Empowerment Trust lawyers.

Ekukhanyeni Empowerment Trust said after the completion of the school, the SDA went to register the school under its name despite not making any contribution towards its building.

“The first defendant (SDA) has since the registration of the school been collecting money in school fees and levies from pupils, which is estimated at around $3 600 per term. By registering the school under its name, the SDA has denied the Nganda community collection of revenue. The church has also been duly enriched to the tune of $350 00 being the cost of building the school,” read court papers.

Ekukhanyeni Empowerment Trust said the SDA was not the intended beneficiary of its donation. “SDA as it stands now is enjoying a donation meant for the Nganda community. In fact, the church’s conduct borders on fraud and it can only be fair and just if the SDA is ordered to pay costs of suit on an attorney and client scale,” said the plaintiff’s lawyers.

Ekukhanyeni Empowerment Trust wants an order barring SDA from running Nganda SDA Primary School and directing Minister Dokora to re-register the school under the name preferred by the Nganda community.

Ekukhanyeni Empowerment Trust also wants an order directing the SDA to refund it $350 000, which is the total cost of building the school. The SDA has not yet responded to the summons. The Chronicle