Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Mr Justin Mupamhanga’s bid to evict his three neighbours from a shared farm in Bindura has failed after the High Court ruled that they were in lawful occupation of their pieces of land.
The protracted land dispute pitting Mr Mupamhanga and the three — Mr Douglas Dhliwayo, a former Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation senior staffer, Mr Blessing Dombojena and Mr Saul Gomwe — started way back in 2003.
All the four farmers were allocated pieces of land on Argyle Park Farm, Bindura measuring 1 412,4 hectares in total.
Plot one has 458,66 hectares, plot two measures 520,8 hectares, plot three is 129,14 hectares, plot four measures 140,74 hectares, while plot five has 160,46 hectares and has an extra 2,55 hectares.
In a judgment handed down on Wednesday, Justice Lavender Makoni dismissed Mr Mupamhanga’s application saying the trio could not be evicted from the land appropriated to them by the Government. She said granting Mr Mupamhanga the relief he sought was tantamount to alienating the rights conferred on the trio by the lawful authority.
“Land has been allocated to them through their offer letters.
“The fourth respondent (Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement) cannot abolish such rights without the due process of the law or the consent of the respondent,” said Justice Makoni.
Through his lawyer, Mr C Mcgown of Venturas and Samukange, Mr Mupamhanga attempted to convince the court of the grounds for his eviction bid.
He said State land can only be occupied by people who had been given authority in the form of an offer letter, permit or lease. He argued that he was in possession of lawful authority in the lease agreement in respect of the farm.
The deputy chief secretary also said the trio was in open defiance of the law and could not seek audience of the court.
But it emerged during the hearing that Mr Mupamhanga failed to disclose to the court that the trio had been in unlawful occupation of their respective pieces of land since 2003.
In his papers, Mr Mupamhanga claimed the trio had illegally encroached onto his farm and, should be evicted.
But Gomwe, Dhliwayo and Dombojena had in their defence argued that it was Mr Mupamhanga who had unlawfully extended the boundaries of his farm with the help of “corrupt” officials at the Lands (and Rural Resettlement) Ministry.