Businessman and Zanu PF Zvimba South MP Philip Chiyangwa is challenging President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration for grabbing his land measuring about 5,5 hectares in Warren Park, Harare, where it wants to build a museum to “chronicle Africa’s liberation”.
This is contained in a High Court chamber application where Chiyangwa, the executive chairman of Kilima Investments, the company that owns the property is challenging the seizure of the land.
Chiyangwa accuses the government of pulling out of talks to buy the land, opting instead to grab it.
He is seeking an order declaring the attempt to grab Stand 9297 Warren Park Township of Warren Park where the government is setting up a museum to chronicle Africa’s liberation null and void.
In his founding affidavit filed on November 12 through his lawyers Mutamangira and Associates, Chiyangwa said the government was trying to avoid paying for the land by resorting to compulsory acquisition despite making a move to negotiate payment terms earlier.
“It is apparent to the applicant that the respondent is set to forcibly proceed and arbitrarily appropriate the applicant’s property. Applicant contends that the respondent’s conduct is manifestly unconstitutional, wrongful and prejudicial to the applicant’s rights and interests for the following reasons,” Chiyangwa said.
“The respondents’ conduct is wholly arbitrary, unconstitutional and has no place for justification in an open and democratic society.”
In August, Mnangagwa invited 16 countries to participate in the construction of the museum during the official launch of the first phase of the project at the property in contention.
It is also reported that Lands and Agriculture minister, Anxious Masuka, who is cited as the respondent, said in the Government Gazette that he was compulsorily acquiring the land on behalf of the President.
Chiyangwa alleges that he was given the particular land by Harare City Council as restitution for properties the city had grabbed from him and the settlements were agreed and registered before the High Court in 2015.
The prominent businessman said the head of the Institute of African Knowledge secretariat behind the construction of the museum, Kwame Muzawazi, expressed interest in purchasing the property.
“The said ambassador Muzawazi advised the applicant’s managing director Brian Chiyangwa of an intention on the part of the Institute of African Knowledge to make an offer for the purchase of the applicant’s entire property,” Chiyangwa said.
“Ambassador Muzawazi advised the applicant that the Institute of African Knowledge is a government department in the Office of the President and Cabinet with the responsibility of constructing a museum for the history of African liberation.”
However, nothing came out of the offer, but that did not stop the government from “recently engaging the applicant in negotiations for the acquisition of the land”.
“The negotiations have not yet been finalised in producing an agreement, and the parties have agreed on an acceptable offer being tabled by the government. It is untenable that in an open, free, fair and democratic society the government now seeks to renege on negotiations and instead now seeks to emasculate the applicant to part with his property through forcible means by arbitrary application of the law.”
Chiyangwa said on November 3, 2021, the applicant through its legal practitioners of record communicated its objection to proposed compulsory acquisition of the property.
“The respondent has not made any communication to the applicant indicating any change of position notwithstanding the details of objection to compulsory acquisition of the applicant’s property,” he said.
Chiyangwa said he had a plan to construct a world-class shopping complex at the site, which he added would include supermarkets, fuel service station, clothing shops and all types of complementary infrastructure.
“To date, the applicant has invested more than US$10 million and the applicant’s complex nears completion and would have been due for use and access to the public before the end of the year 2021,” he said.
The matter is yet to be heard. Nehanda Radio