THE High Court has temporarily suspended the demolition of the multimillion-dollar Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University in Bindura pending determination of the Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Africa church’s application for rescission of the court’s decision.
A fortnight ago, Justice Joseph Musakwa granted a default order for the eviction of Zaoga from the piece of land where the university was built, to pave way for businessman Mr Charles Chakumba to conduct his gold mining activities on the land.
The church last week filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court for stay of execution of the default order pending determination of a rescission application. On Monday, another judge, Justice Joseph Mafusire, granted an interim relief barring any eviction or demolition of property until finalisation of the pending dispute.
This followed convincing arguments by Advocate Fadzai Mahere and Mr Sebastian Guwuriro of Guwuriro and Associates Legal Practitioners that the church needs to be heard first before any action was taken. The contested default judgment was granted on March 3 this year after Zaoga and its previous lawyers, Debwe and Partners, failed to turn up for pre-trial conference.
Debwe and Partners last week renounced agency in the matter after pressure mounted as the clients demanded answers as to how they missed the pre-trial conference date.
Mr Chakumba, who is being represented by Mr Vusani Bangidza of Tavenhave and Machingauta Legal Practitioners, was allocated mining claims 31 and 32 under registration number 22441 and 22442 respectively at Barasse Farm by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development in 1994.
Mr Chakumba had been operating from the area until 2010 when the church was also allocated the same piece of land for the construction of a university by Bindura Municipality.
The church, in its urgent chamber application, argued that its failure to attend the pre-trial conference was due to a mistake on the part of the lawyers’ secretary who was served with the pre-trial hearing notice and misfiled it.
The church said it only became aware of the eviction order through a report published in The Herald.
The church indicated that it had since filed an application for rescission of the default order and that pending finalisation of that matter, the eviction and possible demolition should be suspended.
In the summons issued by Mr Chakumba in August last year, he argued that he was the legitimate owner of the mining claims adding that Zaoga was barring him from exercising his mining rights.
Zaoga also claimed to be the legitimate owners of the piece of land after it was allocated to the church by council.
However, Mr Chakumba said the dispute was resolved by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development that declared him as the rightful owner.
Despite caution, Mr Chakumba stated, Zaoga refused to vacate the land and was continuously interfering with his right to the mining claims.
Mr Chakumba then instituted legal proceedings to evict the church.
In its opposing papers, the university argued that it had been duly allocated the land by Bindura Municipality in 2008.
“The said piece of land was allocated to defendant’s university by the Municipality of Bindura in March 2008 in consultation with the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing,” read the papers.
The church argued that the matter should be dismissed because the summons were filed after the required period of up to three years in terms of the Prescription Act.
The church confirmed to the court that it indeed refused to vacate the land because it had also been allocated the same piece of land by council.
Zaoga questioned the propriety decision of the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development declaring Mr Chakumba as the lawful owner of the claims.