Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
OVER 20 000 people who bought land for housing in Harare South from a land developing consortium on three farms face eviction after the Government returned the land to Dr Philip Chiyangwa’s Pinnacle Property Holdings.
Government wrote to Pinnacle Property Holdings confirming the return of the farms to the firm.
Armed with the letter, Pinnacle has been directing the residents to pay $150 per stand holder as registration fee before they could be told how much they would pay as compensation or face eviction.
The residents argue that they have already paid for the land to Ordar Housing Development Consortium made up of 56 companies and they cannot afford to fork out more money for the same stands.
Pinnacle Property Holdings bought the land from its previous owners, but the Government compulsorily acquired it in 2010 after arguing that the company could not provide houses for low-income earners since it was profit-oriented.
The Administrative Court once confirmed the acquisition and allowed the housing co-operatives to continue parcelling out the land to house seekers.
But Dr Chiyangwa contested the decision at the Supreme Court, resulting in an out-of-court settlement with the Government and the returning of the land to his company.
A visit by The Herald to the area yesterday showed that the residents are apprehensive about the prospects of losing the land after failing to raise fresh funds.
They described the move as “daylight robbery”, with most of them saying that they had finished their payments and were now the rightful owners of the stands.
“How can we continue paying money,” said Mr Peter Rwizi.
“I paid $4 500 when I bought this stand in 2011, but now I am being ordered to pay an additional $4 000, for what?”
Mrs Margaret Dube said the residents had become victims of fights which they had nothing to do with.
“Some of the people are failing to finish developing their stands because they do not have the money,” she said.
“So, where will they get the $4 000 being demanded now? This is unfair.”
Another resident Mr Moses Guvamombe said he could not afford to raise more money and would wait for eviction day.
“I do not have the money,” he said. “At the moment I am not going anywhere. We will just see what will happen to us. The powerful people are exploiting the poor people.
“We just received pamphlets informing us of the new developments and we threw them away. They do not mean anything to us. We want full information. The housing consortium has not provided us with any services. The trenches which were supposed to be for sewer pipes have already filled up.”
Dr Chiyangwa said in an interview that he was the rightful owner of the land after repossessing it and those who needed title deeds should pay directly to him.
“I am the one who approached the courts,” he said. “I am the owner of these farms and I do not know who these people paid money to.
“The farms belong to me and the people should not tell me what to do. I never demanded $4 000. These people bought these stands from conmen and never bought any land from me.”
Dr Chiyangwa said the residents should be prepared to pay $150 to register with him followed by discussions on how they would pay for the their stands.
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing acting secretary Retired Colonel Joseph Mhakayakora wrote to Pinnacle Property Holdings advising that Government had returned Ordar Farm, Nyarungu Estate and Subdivision A Stoneridge to the firm.
“The Government of Zimbabwe has resolved to return Ordar Farm to Sensense Investments (Private) Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Pinnacle Property Holdings,” reads the letter. “Sensense Investments (Private) Limited will receive compensation directly from the occupants and pass ownership accordingly.
“Government of Zimbabwe has also resolved to return Nyarungu Estate to Jetmaster Properties (Private) Limited for use in promoting its industrial development as per the local authority plan in place. Occupants currently settled in the area and those from Arlington Estate will be resettled on Subdivision A of Stoneridge.
“A more comprehensive resettlement plan and compensation methodology will be agreed between Government of Zimbabwe and Pinnacle Property Holdings in due course.”
Ordar Housing Development Consortium chairman Mr Ben Matenga wrote to the secretary for Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Engineer George Mlilo, saying the directive for them to engage Pinnacle was a deviation from an agreement they signed earlier with Government.
Eng Mlilo responded by declining the proposal, insisting that the earlier directive should stand.