AGRICULTURE minister Anxious Masuka has his bid to wrest land from Zvimba commercial Bruce Charles Alexander foiled by a High Court judge.
High Court judge Justice Never Katiyo awarded the land measuring 50 hectares to Alexander following a legal battle during which the latter argued that it was his and was meant for industrial, commercial, residential, supportive or incidental structures.
According to court papers, Alexander is the registered owner of the land situated in the Mt Hampden area in Zvimba district.
In his lawsuit against Masuka, Alexander wanted the court to declare the listing of the property by the minister in the Government Gazette published on April 6, 2012, under General Notice 134 of 2012, null and void.
He wanted to be declared the rightful owner. Court documents show that in 2022, Alexander applied to the provincial town planning office in Mashonaland West for a subdivision permit.
He was, however, advised that the land had been acquired by government.
It also turned out that the same piece of land had been gazetted on August 4, 2006 under General Notice 203 of 2006.
Zvimba Rural District Council gazetted the Mt Hampden Local Development Plan in terms of the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act [Chapter 29:12].The plan zoned a total area of 13 990 hectares of land as urban land available for industrial, commercial, residential, supportive or incidental structures.
The plan came into effect on September 1, 2006. Alexander, however, argued that the land in question was zoned as urban land for industrial development under zone 5A way back in 2006.
Alexander also sought a declarator arguing that the land could not be expropriated for agricultural purposes because it was gazetted as urban land in 2006.
He argued that the minister did not contest that the land in question was, indeed, urban land.
Masuka opposed the application on the basis that government had acquired the land on April 6, 2012.
He averred that the relief being sought was incompetent because Alexander should have prayed for an order expressly declaring the action unconstitutional.
However, Katiyo ruled that the minister’s arguments were weak and could not stand.
“There is nothing put forward by the respondent to the effect that the 2006 gazetting was reversed or revoked before the 2012 gazetting was put in place. It was argued by the respondent legal practitioners that a gazette is not law, but a mere notice, but if this argument is to be followed, it would jeopardise the whole purpose for its function.
“Having considered the analysis as above, this court is persuaded by the applicant’s arguments. There is no tangible argument put forward by the respondent,” Katiyo ruled.
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