FORMER President Robert Mugabe’s family has been given seven days to vacate a private land, which they allegedly grabbed from the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe (RCZ)-owned Eaglesvale Senior School in Harare.
The school’s board chairperson, Enos Chomutiri, told NewsDay yesterday that they have instructed their lawyer, Rodney Makausi, to order the Mugabes off stand number 791, Greystone Township, registered in their name under deed 4149/80.
Makausi said the eviction letter was handed to security officials at Mugabe’s Blue Roof residence in Borrowdale Brooke.
“Our clients have notified us that you have illegally occupied their above-mentioned piece of land without their authority and without any lawful or just cause,” part of the letter read.
“They have notified us that you have now planted maize crops (sic) on the said piece of land without their authority.
“Our clients have now asked us to demand, as we hereby do, that you vacate the said piece of land within the course of the next seven days from date of this letter, failing which our instructions are to institute proceedings for your eviction without further notice.”
The letter, dated January 23, was addressed to the Gushungo Holdings manager, only identified as Nyoni.
The latest developments follow reports that the Mugabes pulled down a billboard erected by Eaglesvale headmaster Dennis Anderson showing that the property belonged to the church under the Eaglesvale Daisyfield Trust (EDT).
Chomutiri said the church has had the title deeds to the land since 1978.
He said the Mugabes claimed they have title to the land, which they acquired from the government in 2015 after the property was gazetted for compulsory acquisition.
The land, measuring 23 hectares, runs from where Borrowdale Road intersects with Harare Drive to where it intersects with Crowhill Road and Helensvale shopping centre, the road that leads to the Mugabes’ expansive Blue Roof mansion.
The land was earmarked for the development of Eaglesvale Senior School — an elite school currently operating from rented premises in the capital’s Willowvale industrial area.
A senior government official, who spoke to NewsDay on condition of anonymity, said the property was State land given to the church by the colonial government in 1978, which they then gave to Eaglesvale School to build its campus, before Grace expressed interest in the land.
Former Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo then gazetted the land for compulsory acquisition to build a Robert Mugabe Memorial Centre, but the move was declared unlawful by the Administrative Court.
In its ruling, the court said the government’s compulsory land acquisition policy could not apply on privately-owned urban land.
“Minister Chombo then said he would get alternative land for the church, but I doubt if it was done by the time he left the ministry.
“I am sure the matter will be solved soon,” the official said.
Court papers seen by NewsDay show that there has been a legal battle over the land between the Local Government ministry and Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk-Sinode Vanmidde-Afrika dating back to 2016.
The case, number 14/16, was withdrawn from the Administrative Court by the government in February 2017.
“Take notice that the applicant withdraws the notice of application for order confirming acquisition of a piece of land filed in case No LA 14/16 tendering wasted costs,” read a notice to the Administrative Court issued by the Lands ministry.
The church, in its submission before the Administrative Court, argued the land was meant for public infrastructure and could not be acquired by the government.