By Mashudu Netsianda
A GWERU-based land developer, River Valley Properties (Pvt) Ltd is suing Midlands Provincial Affairs Minister Larry Mavima for $60 000 in defamation damages.
River Valley Properties, whose director is Ms Smelly Dube, accuses Minister Mavima of tarnishing its image by allegedly lying through some sections of the media that they did not follow proper procedures in the construction of Woodlands Park suburb in Gweru.
Minister Mavima allegedly told a local newspaper that the Government was working on administrative legal processes to seize the land that River Valley Properties had developed.
River Valley Properties, through its lawyers Ncube Attorneys, filed summons at the Bulawayo High Court citing the Provincial Affairs Minister, as the defendant.
In papers before the court, the company said the defendant’s statement was factually wrong.
The company said it followed all the procedures in line with the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing requirements.
“All proper procedures were followed and for the avoidance of doubt, River Valley Properties’ interests in the land in question were to develop it on behalf of the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing,” said the company’s lawyers.
“The words by the defendant in the context of his address were wrongful and defamatory of the plaintiff in that they were understood by the audience as insinuating that the plaintiff had benefited from unprocedural means of acquiring the land known as Woodlands Park, Gweru.”
The company said it suffered damages in the sum of $60 000 for tarnished reputation.
“Wherefore plaintiff claims judgment against the defendant for payment of $60 000 being damages suffered by the plaintiff as a result of the defamatory published article whose source is the defendant,” said River Valley Properties’ lawyers.
The company also wants the Minister to pay the legal costs.
Minister Mavima is yet to respond to the summons.
Last year teachers under the Zimbabwe Teachers Union (Zimta) took Gweru River Valley Properties to court for allegedly failing to deliver residential stands, which they had paid for.
The teachers, through their lawyers Munyaradzi Gwisai and Partners approached the Bulawayo High Court seeking an order directing River Valley Properties to refund them $15 845 which they paid in instalments for the stands.
They said between 2014 and 2015 on varying dates each one of them joined Mahlaba Housing Programme after River Valley Properties promised them residential stands upon paying $50 monthly over a period of 12 months.
The matter is still pending before the courts. The Chronicle