By Mashudu Netsianda
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Retired Chief Air Marshal Perrance Shiri has been taken to court by a company operating Halfway House Hotel in Hwange for turning down its application to lease the property.
Tetra Heights, through its lawyers Mutuso, Taruvinga and Mhiribidi Attorneys, filed a chamber application at the Bulawayo High Court citing Rtd Chief Air Marshal Shiri as the respondent.
The company is seeking an order directing the Minister to suspend the notice ordering it to vacate Halfway House Hotel.
Tetra Heights also wants Minister Shiri to be compelled to provide written reasons for rejecting its application to lease Halfway Hotel.
In her founding affidavit, Ms Primrose Muvango, a representative of Tetra Heights, said her company has been in occupation of the premises since August 2016 with the blessing of former Lands Minister Douglas Mombeshora.
“The possession of Halfway House Hotel was through a ministerial directive since August 2016 following the eviction of former owner, Mr Rob Sterling, as part of the land reform programme.
“The applicant was advised that they should possess the property until such a time that the Government of Zimbabwe would have nominated a new tenant to occupy the premises,” said Ms Muvango.
When Mr Sterling was removed from the farm, his employees continued running the hotel until the Government brought Tetra Heights.
The Government flighted a tender in December last year inviting interested persons to apply to the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement for a lease agreement.
Tetra Heights, which was one of the applicants, was not successful. Tetra Heights was on January 4 this year given a notice to vacate the premises.
“Having received the notice that the application to lease the premises was not successful, the applicant on January 12, 2018 requested reasons for the administrative decision made by the respondent in terms of section 4 of the Administrative Act.
“To date respondent has failed to provide written reasons why the application to let the premises was refused,” said Ms Muvango.
“The applicant believes that the respondent is dragging its feet in releasing the reasons so much that Tetra Heights does not exercise its right of appeal or review before the expiry of the eviction notice.”
Tetra Heights has since last year been locked in a legal wrangle with former workers, who have invaded Halfway House Hotel wanting to control the property.
Tetra Heights was allocated the farm by Dr Mombeshora, but has faced resistance from six former workers, who have seized part of the farm, including a hotel, kiosk, service station and a workers’ compound. The Chronicle