BULAWAYO Provisional Affairs minister Eunice Sandi Moyo has been exposed as the force behind the controversial takeover of a farm near Cowdray Park by a private company.
Helenvale Block Farm is owned by Majele Sibanda, an indigenous Zimbabwean, but Mahlaba Housing Programme (MHP) managed by River Valley Estate Properties arbitrarily moved to sell housing stands to civil servants.
Sibanda’s son who owns Gamange (Pvt) Ltd successfully applied for a High Court provisional order blocking River Valley Properties from developing the stands.
Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Maxwell Takuva granted a provisional order in an urgent chamber application filed by Gamange (Pvt) Ltd on June 13.
The ruling meant MHP subsidiary, River Valley Properties (Pvt) Ltd, a property developer which had been selling stands on the land in question for the benefit of thousands of civil servants, would immediately cease operations although it’s workers were spotted at the site on Saturday.
However, the government moved in and compulsorily acquired the land in a development that has raised eyebrows.
Documents seen by Southern Eye show that Sandi Moyo started pushing for the acquisition of Helenvale Block in February where she met
officials from the Local Government, Public Works and National Housing ministry.
She was advised by F Ndhlovu that government records showed the farm was private property and the owners had submitted a permission to subdivide the farm, which was granted in 2009.
“We have realised that the whole of Helenvale Block is private property and the section earmarked for the housing project next to Cowdray Park actually belongs to the Majele family,” Ndhlovu wrote on March 13 2014.
“It must be noted that the property had been earmarked for acquisition in 2004 in the spirit of the National Housing Delivery Programme.
“Thus this property had been identified for the same and a draft layout plan had been produced by this office pending acquisition.
“However, I suppose the process was abandoned because of the acquisition status of the land.”
Sandi Moyo was then advised to facilitate the acquisition of the farm so that it became State land.
The Majele family is accusing Sandi Moyo of using unorthodox means to help River Valley Properties to muscle it out of the property.
When Southern Eye visited the farm on Saturday, some civil servants were touring their allocated stands despite a High Court order blocking River Valley Properties from developing the land.
According to a Gamange employee Cleyen Musiyiwa, a lot of people toured stands on Saturday.
“I saw a Ncube coming in a pickup truck with people and I had to hide as they moved toward the area we have since cleared for our company to sell stands,” he said.
“Some said a school was going to be built here.”
Mathew Simanga a resident close to the disputed stands said a number of people had been visiting the farm to view the stands they had been allocated.
“I came here sometime in April after being requested by the owner of this house to stay as a caretaker and I have always seen people coming to view stands and at times I give them water and directions,” he said.
Ncube said he was assigned to show people their stands by authorities above him which he did not want to disclose.
“As a worker I cannot tell you who sent me here. I can only give you the phone numbers and you could talk to my seniors,” he said.
Sibanda’s relative Ndodana Sibanda said the plan the new occupants had once slipped out of Sandi Moyo’s hands.
“When we were doing the paperwork to apportion our farm into residential stands, Sandi requested to see our plan and we gave her not knowing she had an ulterior motive,” he said.
“The next thing we saw was our exact plan being displayed by River Valley properties.
“River Valley through Ncube is violating the court order hence we have reported this to the police.”
In a letter dated June 25, the Lands and Rural Settlement ministry ordered Gamange to stop operating on that land until the intended acquisition had been resolved – (referring to the Land Acquisition Act).
“It has come to our attention that on or about the 22nd June 2014, you or persons acting under your authority acted in a manner that demolishes, damages, alters or impairs the land described in the notice.
“Accordingly, you are hereby advised to cease any such activities until the intended acquisition process has been concluded, that is, either confirmed or dismissed by the administrative Court,” part of the letter read.
Gamange believes this contradicts the provisional order granted by the courts.
Efforts to get a comment from Sandi Moyo yesterday were fruitless as her mobile phone was unreachable.