Grace Mugabe Intervenes in Land Dispute: Demands Restoration of Niece’s Cancelled Title Deeds

March 20, 2024
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In a notable legal tussle over land rights in Zimbabwe, former First Lady Grace Mugabe has reportedly stepped into the fray, confronting Local Government Minister Winston Chitando. The bone of contention is the cancellation of title deeds for an 8003 square meter piece of land in the posh Carrick Creagh area of Borrowdale, Harare, originally purchased by her niece, Farai Mashonganyika, in 2011 for US$4,000.

Mashonganyika, who has previously served on the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, finds herself at the center of a contentious issue, asserting her right over land acquired at what now appears to be a fraction of its market value. The land, bought for approximately 49 cents per square meter, is dramatically lower than the current valuation pegged by the government at US$20,003.

The matter escalated to the High Court after the Ministry of Local Government, under Minister Chitando’s directive, cancelled the title deed, citing discrepancies in the purchase price and alleging fraudulent acquisition. In response, Mashonganyika, leveraging her familial ties, has roped in the influential former First Lady in a bid to restore her ownership rights.

Sources close to the situation revealed that Grace Mugabe made a direct call to Minister Chitando last Saturday, attempting to persuade him to retract his opposition to Mashonganyika’s legal challenge. This intervention by Mugabe underscores the complexity and high stakes involved in the dispute, highlighting the intricate blend of politics, land rights, and family connections.

Mashonganyika’s court application sheds light on her acquisition process, where she claims to have been misled by a property development company, which prompted additional payments beyond the initial purchase price. She asserts that her title deed, obtained after fulfilling her financial obligations, was unjustly cancelled, a move that she learned of only through public notices.

In his defense, Minister Chitando argues that the court cannot proceed without considering the testimony of the involved property developer, Arosume Property Development Pvt Ltd, which is crucial for validating Mashonganyika’s claims of financial compliance. The Minister’s affidavit emphasizes the necessity of acknowledging the tripartite agreement between the ministry, the developer, and the Sally Mugabe Housing Cooperative for a comprehensive evaluation of the case.

The legal battle has unveiled a tangled web of allegations, counter-allegations, and a quest for justice, as Mashonganyika strives to reclaim her land rights against a backdrop of regulatory scrutiny and accusations of favoritism. The involvement of Grace Mugabe adds a layer of political intrigue to the case, raising questions about the influence of high-profile individuals in legal and governmental processes.

As the High Court deliberates on this contentious issue, the outcome will undoubtedly have far-reaching implications for land ownership disputes, government transparency, and the integrity of property acquisition processes in Zimbabwe. The case continues to unfold, with the Zimbabwean public keenly watching as these complex layers of law, politics, and family relations intersect in the High Court’s halls.