Fidelis Munyoro Chief Reporter
Odar Housing Development Consortium (OHDC) has struck a $42,5 million pay off deal with businessman Dr Philip Chiyangwa, putting to rest the long-drawn dispute that saw suspected rogue land barons being arrested. The money will be paid over a five-year period. OHDC chairman Mr Benny Tangai Matenga, signed the deed of settlement on behalf of the consortium while Dr Chiyangwa represented Sensene Investments, a subsidiary of Pinnacle Property Holdings.
Both parties also agreed to withdraw all criminal and civil cases before the courts. The land measuring 605 8092 hectares was sold at $7 per square metre translating to $42 406 644. “Sensene has sold to OHDC its entire interest in the Farm, Ordar measuring 605, 8092 hectares per square meter,” said Dr Chiyangwa at a Press briefing last night. “The parties agreed on a five year payment period for beneficiaries. Beneficiaries will be granted title upon paying a minimal deposit, with the residual covered with a bond.
“Henceforth OHDC will be responsible for administration and management of all affairs at Odar Farm.” Mr Matenga said the parties reached a settlement after a strenuous bargaining on the part of the housing consortium. “It was a long struggle, but I think we have delivered what all residents of Southlea Park have been waiting for,” said Mr Matenga. “We bargained. I think we got the best price. I think it’s the cheapest price for a residential stand, which you can pay and get a stand in Harare.”
Mr Matenga said the consortium could now do its business on the land with the full knowledge that the property belongs to them. The parties hammered a settlement at a time when Government embarked on crusade to crack-down on rogue land barons that have been fleecing desperate home seekers of their hard-earned cash.
Mr Matenga and several others suspected land barons were arrested on allegations of illegally selling residential and business stands belonging to Sensene Investments Private Limited. The matter is pending before the courts. It is alleged that they sold stands fraudulently to the unsuspecting public who were now paying for the same stand twice.
It was also alleged that they were also running schemes that were fraudulently drawing money from the public on a monthly basis through the Ebenezer housing scheme. OHDC is made up of corporate companies who purport to have entered into an agreement with the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing to take over Odar Farm and they would compensate the original farm owner for the land.
The agreement was entered into in 2006 when the farm was private land, which makes the agreement null and void. When the Government returned the farm to Pinnacle Holdings, 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 argued that they had already paid for the land to OHDC made up of 56 companies and they could not 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 cooperatives 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.