Former First Lady Grace Mugabe caught in land dispute controversy


Former First Lady Grace Mugabe has been sucked into a wrangle over an attempt by her niece to reverse the cancellation of one of the title deeds in Borrowdale’s Carrick Creagh, with reports alleging that she tried to persuade a Government minister to withdraw his affidavit opposing the attempt to reverse the cancellation.

Mugabe’s niece, Ms Farai Mashonganyika, is suing Local Government and Public Works Minister Winston Chitando over the cancellation of the title deed for a stand of 8 003 square metres she bought for US$4 000, although subsequent valuations said she should have paid US$20 003.

According to sources close to the dispute, Mrs Mugabe sought to persuade Minister Chitando to withdraw his affidavit so her niece could secure a default judgment in the matter, and get her title deed back without any court argument.

However, Minister Chitando would have none of it as he stuck to the due process of the law and filed his papers opposing the application and supporting the Government action in cleaning up what were identified as irregularities in some of the developments in Carrick Creagh.

Ms Mashonganyika, is a former commissioner at the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission. She claimed to have bought the land for US$4 000 in 2011 at around US$0,49 a square metre.

The Government cancelled the title deed for Mashonganyika after property developer, Arosume Property Development Pvt, advised that it was fraudulently acquired given the cost was far less than the market price of US$20 003 at that time.

This was part of a number of complaints by Arosume that it had been forced to sell part of the development at below market prices, although others, including people in Government, paid full price.

In her recent High Court application, Ms Mashonagnyika is suing Minister Chitando seeking to reverse the cancellation, arguing that she bought Stand 91 of Carrick Creagh from the ministry.

She stated in her papers that she was shocked to receive notification through notices in the Government Gazette and advertisements in this paper published in November 2022, that the ministry intended to cancel several title deeds, including hers, and invited holders to make their representations, which she did through her lawyer.

But the ministry, after considering the matter last month, served her with a notice advising that her title deed was cancelled under case number HC700/24. She has now made an application to reverse that cancellation.

Last week, Minister Chitando filed his opposing papers in which he highlighted that Ms Mashonganyika did not join Arosume and only they can confirm or deny that she paid the development costs.

Minister Chitando also submitted that the court could not make a determination without hearing the side of the developer which had not been brought into the application against the ministry.

“The ministry can only answer to the issue of the intrinsic value,” said Minister Chitando.

“The development fees were to be paid in accordance with the tripartite agreement and the developer would confirm payment of such to this honourable court.”

To this end, Minister Chitando urged the court to reject Ms Mashonganyika’s application for lack of merit.

The minister laid out how the development costs of the suburb were to be paid.

“The Ministry, Arosume Property Development Pvt Ltd and Sally Mugabe Housing Cooperative had a tripartite agreement for the development of residential stands in Carrick Creagh,Borrowdale, Harare.

“The stand in question does not fall within the commonage list. There is,therefore, an assumption that she might have been a cooperative member or an individual identified by the developer himself.”

But Ms Mashonganyika, said the minister was expected to pay for the development of the area as stipulated in the tripartite agreement.

Even if she was a cooperative member or from the developer, the agreement was clear that these groups ought to pay their fair proportion of development of the area, argued Minister Chitando.

“The ministry, however, conducted a valuation exercise for purposes of collecting the intrinsic value cost and it clearly shows that the stand was valued at US$20 003. The applicant c alleges that she paid US$4000 only which was a breach for non- payment of intrinsic value to Government.

“Further, the ministry is not even aware how a whole title deed was processed when the full purchase price was not paid.”

Minister Chitando said the ministry received a request from the developer to cancel the title deed for the land as Ms Mashonganyika had failed to honour her obligation in terms of payment of the development fees.

The minister also said his predecessor Minister July Moyo issued a notice of intention to cancel dated April 5, 2022, and Ms Mashonganyika on April 13 responded to the notice objecting to the cancellation of the deed.

In her response, according to the minister, Ms Mashonganyika alleged that she obtained the stand from the commonage list as she was a civil servant, among other issues.

Minister Chitando stated that the stand did not fall within that category and he accused Ms Mashonganyika of dishonesty when she said in her application that she was not advised of the cancellation of the title deed during the meetings she had with the Ministry.

The hearing date is not yet available.

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