Ruwa land wrangle hots up

The ownership wrangle involving the remainder of Hofmoor Farm in Ruwa, earmarked for residential stands, has intensified.

Elton Mangoma
Elton Mangoma

ZB Bank insists it is the rightful owner of the property, and has dismissed Minister of Local Government Ignatious Chombo’s claims that the farm is owned by his fellow cabinet minister and some cooperatives. Meanwhile, the former MDC-T Minister of Energy, Elton Mangoma, has been mentioned as having a stake in the property – which he denies.

Three weeks ago The Zimbabwean broke the news that 5,300 unsuspecting home seekers had been duped of over $1m by unscrupulous Zanu (PF) bigwigs and encouraged to invade the 598 ha farm before the July 31 election. Further investigations have unearthed a letter written by Chombo and bearing his signature to the secretary of Ruwa Local Board, Juliet Makombe, on 8 May 2013, appointing Glorious Properties to carry out infrastructural development for residential stands on the farm. Glorious Properties is owned by another Zanu (PF) Goromonzi South Constituency MP and Deputy Minister of Transport, Petronella Kagonye.

The letter states: “Reference is made to the meeting held at Ruwa Country Club on April 29, 2013 where the Minister of Lands announced the handover of Cloverdale farm in Goromonzi District to the Ministry of Local Government in line with urban expansion. Pursuant to that, my ministry is appointing Glorious Properties to carry out the infrastructure development for residential stands on Solomio Farm in Ruwa district.” Cloverdale Farm, situated at the toll gate in Ruwa along Mutare road, was also given to Kagonye as owner and developer.

“I can confirm that Chombo gave us a development permit to develop both Cloverdale and Solomio farms and we are only waiting for a Physical Planning license before we start to develop the residential stands,” said Kagonye.

The acting Managing Director of ZB Bank, Sam Chiganze, said his company owns the farm and any development there by anyone else was ‘illegal’.

“Through ZB Building Society we are developing Springvale Park in Ruwa where 400 stands have been completed under phase 2 of that development. We also own Hofmoor Estates or Solomio Farm, but the group has not yet embarked on developing it. measures are being taken,” he added.

According to Ruwa Board Chairperson, Pinias Rabson Mushayavanhu, Solomio Farm is owned by ZB Bank and Landela Safaris. The five housing cooperatives – Solomon Mujuru, Shingiriro (women’s League), Totonga Housing Cooperative for ex-detainees, Vaduku Forum for the youth and Civil Servants Housing Cooperative – have no title deeds to the land, and neither does Glorious Properties.

“I haven’t received any letter from Chombo indicating that he has appointed Glorious Properties to develop the stands. I will table the issue when we hold our first council meeting to find out what is happening,” he said.

A source who leaked the letter to The Zimbabwean said Chombo was using Zanu (PF) officials in council to push his agenda and had hoped that the new council would be led by Zanu (PF) – but MDC-T won a majority on July 31. “The letter was written by Chombo in May but was not presented to the council as they were hoping that Zanu (PF) would win and further their interests,” said the source.

An employee at Landela Safaris who declined to be named said as ZB Bank was engaged in other projects in Ruwa, they were preparing to develop phase 1 of the 652 low density stands at Solomio which they named Eton Park.

“The development of Eton shall be in phases and Phase 1 has 216 stands measuring 2,000 sq metres each, phase 2 has 147, phase 3 with 141, phase 4a has 133 stands all measuring 2,000 sq metres and 4b has 15 stands measuring between 6,000 and 7,000 sq metres,” said the source.

“Mangoma is a stakeholder of Landela Safaris in the Eton Park project and at one point he even went to Ruwa Board to MDC-T councillors seeking for clarification saying they must not allow Zanu (PF) to take the farm because he had interest,” alleged the source. When contacted for comment Mangoma dismissed the allegation.

“I am hearing that for the first time. I am not part of Solomio neither do I know where it is located,” he said. Efforts to get comment from Chombo were futile, while Landela Safaris’ owner Berry Deacon’s mobile was not reachable.

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