By Mary Taruvinga
FLAMBOYANT businessman and Zanu PF politician, Philip Chiyangwa, has taken the government to the High Court for allegedly grabbing his prime land for the construction of a Museum of African Liberation in Warren Park, Harare.
The controversial businessman complains his party boss and Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa, unnecessarily flexed his powers, and took over his property, where is constructing a world-class shopping mall.
Chiyangwa is seeking an order declaring his company, Killima Investments, the rightful owner of the land measuring 5 4834 hectares.
The company is cited as the applicant in the matter while Lands Minister Anxious Masuka is the respondent.
According to his court application, Chiyangwa said the property was acquired from the Harare City Council in 2012, and the local council approved the deal.
He was given the land by the city council as restitution for several properties the municipality had grabbed from him.
However, there were some disputes after Chiyangwa’s got land, but the matter was resolved in 2013 with High Court judge, Justice Happias Zhou ruling in favour of Chiyangwa, and the property was transferred into his company’s name.
“It is common cause that applicant proceeded to seek various permits and licenses for the construction of a multi-million-dollar world-class shopping mall complete with all upmarket amenities including supermarkets, fuel station, clothing shops, and all complementary infrastructure,” wrote Chiyangwa in his founding affidavit.
He said Killima Investments had invested more than US$10 million and the shopping mall would have been completed by the end of this year if the government had not interfered.
“The land constitutes a rare gem which Killima has not spared any sweet resource or effort in ensuring that it represents the best expression of indigenous business investment in Zimbabwe,” he added.
“With the applicant having toiled to ensure that the property is duly completed before the end of 2021, a surprise call was made by one Ambassador Kwame Muzawazi who introduced himself as the head of secretariat of the Institute of African Knowledge.”
Chiyangwa said Muzawazi told Brian Chiyangwa, his son, who is also Killima managing director of government’s intention to buy the entire complex.
“Muzawazi advised the applicant that his organisation is a government department in the office of the President and Cabinet with the responsibility of constructing a Museum for the History of African Liberation.”
He said they discussed with Muzawazi who said he was going to talk with his superiors, but never returned, and Killima continued with the construction project of the mall.
Chiyangwa said to his surprise, on October 29, 2021, a notice of compulsory acquisition of the land was published in terms of the Land Acquisition Act.
He argues it was clear the government had decided to forcibly grab his property despite that he had offered to discuss the matter and reach a common ground.
“Applicant contends that respondent’s conduct is manifestly unconstitutional, unlawful, wrongful and prejudicial to Killima’s rights and interests.”
Killima Investments, Chiyangwa, added objects to the proposed acquisition by the government on the basis the act is an unreasonable exercise of power by the state.
“The respondent’s conduct is arbitrary, unconstitutional, and has no place for justification in an open and democratic society. The applicant has no option but to seek a declaration of rights in respect of his property.”
In August, Mnangagwa invited 16 countries to participate in the construction of the museum during the official launch of the first phase of the project.