Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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Farmer’s offer letter nullified

Farmer’s offer letter nullified

The Herald, 3 June 2011

By Daniel Nemukuyu

A white farmer will remain on his 10-hectare ploy at Good Hope Farm in Harare after the Supreme Court nullified the acquisition of the piece of land on the basis that it was urban land.

The land was allocated to Ms E Mashongwa under the land reform programme but the Supreme Court held that the acquisition was not done in line with the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku nullified an offer letter granted to Ms Mashongwa on February 21 this year. Lot 17 of Good Hope Farm was acquired by the State under the Land reform programme and the acquisition was published in the Government Gazette of June 15, 2007.

Chief Justice Chidyausiku granted the order after a successful argument by the 75-year-old Mr Georgios Kondonis’ lawyer Advocate Thobani Mpofu.

Advocate Mpofu convinced the court that the land was designated as urban land in 1996, well before the Land Reform programme and hence the acquisition was null and void.

Magoge-Mashindi and Muzenda Attorneys instructed Adv Mpofu in the matter while chief law officer Mr Nelson Mutsonziwa represented the State.

The Chief Justice set aside the consequential endorsement of Mr Kondonis’ deed of transfer.

“The acquisition of applicant’s land situate in the District of Salisbury being Lot 17 of Good Hope, measuring 10,979 hectares and held under Deed of transfer 1267/85 is outside the provisions of the law more particularly section 16(2)(a) and 16A of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and therefore invalid and is accordingly set aside.

“The consequential endorsement of applicant’s deed of transfer is equally set aside and applicant’s deed of title is therefore restored.

“The offer letter granted to second respondent (Ms Mashongwa) on February 21, 2011 is invalid and therefore set aside,” ruled Chief Justice Chidyausiku.

Detailed reasons for the ruling would be availed later. Mr. Kondonis, a Zimbabwean of Greek origin bought the plot in 1985.

He argued that he was not a descendent of the British people who colonised Zimbabwe and that his plot could not have been compulsorily acquired under the land reform programme. Mr Kondonis stated in his affidavit that the land was later designated as urban land in 1996 before the land reform programme.

In March this year, Ms Mashongwa, who had been Mr Kondonis’ tenant stopped paying rentals arguing that the land was now State land.

She later approached Mr Kondonis seeking his eviction armed with an offer letter dated February 12, 2011.

That prompted Mr Kondonis to file the constitutional application.

Opposing the application, Mr Mutsonziwa argued that Mr Kondonis was approaching the court with dirty hands because he failed to comply with an eviction order.

According to the State’s failed argument, Mr Kondonis was supposed to vacate the land within the specified period in compliance with the eviction order before challenging the acquisition.

It was argued that the land was legally gazetted and that it ceased to be Mr Kondonis’ property from the date when the acquisition was gazetted.

Mr Mutsonziwa argued that acquisition of land could not be challenged in court. The land, the State argued, was agricultural land and the compulsory acquisition was proper.


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