By Tendai Kamhungira
Original owner of Arlington Estate, Portland Holdings (Private) Limited, now PPC Zimbabwe, has written a letter to the Local Government ministry demanding a reversal of the acquisition of the property, which had been allocated to several residents.
The residents have since been elbowed out by government amid claims that the land was reserved for airport expansion.
Several families, most of whom were members of Nyikavanhu Housing Cooperative, were left stranded in 2016 after the government demolished their houses, claiming the land was illegally allocated to the residents.
The government promised to move the families to another land in Chishawasha B, but has failed to do so two years down the line, even though indications were that the allocation would be complete by end of last year.
Indications are, however that, PPC Zimbabwe is seeking the reversal of the acquisition of the property.
According to a letter written to Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement ministry secretary, dated June 15, 2018 from the Local Government, PPC Zimbabwe is demanding a reversal of the acquisition of the land.
“The ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing is in receipt of a letter from Portland Holdings (Private) Limited, now PPC Zimbabwe, wherein the company is requesting for the reversal of the acquisition of its former property, Subdivision E of Arlington Estate, Harare.
“The company is further citing that it has some huge investment and development plans over the property if it is returned back to its ownership.
“May it further be pointed out that following the handover of the property by the ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement on the 4th of May 2012, the ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing planned and approved an industrial layout on the land which was subsequently allocated to various beneficiaries. We are referring the matter to you for your opinion and guidance since land acquisition matters are under your jurisdiction,” the letter reads.
This also comes as government has earmarked the land exclusively for industrial development in a bid to be compliant with the Civil Aviation Act (Chapter 13:16).
According to a February 2018 letter to the director of works, City of Harare by principal director in the department of Physical Planning and State Land Management, the land will no longer be used for residential purposes.
“This is to confirm my earlier warning that, developers who hold titled deeds over the Arlington properties…may apply to City of Harare for development permits in terms of Section 40 of the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act (Chapter 29:12) of 1996 and that the applications if targeting housing should be refused.
“Further to that discussion, this is to remind you that the new properties are to be utilised exclusively for industrial development in order to be complaint with the provisions of the Civil Aviation Act (Chapter 13:16) as well as Statutory Instrument 193 of 2003.
“These two form the legal framework on the use of land lying around the airport for airport expansion and related/ancillary uses. As agreed under no circumstances shall your Local Authority grant permits to any application over these units for residential development,” the letter reads.
The High Court in 2016 barred government from demolishing the residents’ properties without a court order, adding that even though the structures were illegal in terms of council regulations, due process of the law was supposed to be followed. DailyNews