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Apostolic Faith Church fights over Ntabazinduna temple land

by Staff reporter
04 Oct 2021 at 04:51hrs | Views
THE Apostolic Faith Church of Portland Oregon is locked in a protracted land wrangle with a Ntabazinduna villager whom it accuses of illegally setting up a homestead on its land acquired through the local traditional leadership.

The church is also accusing Umguza Rural District Council of deliberately delaying approving its building plan for the construction of a temple in Ntabazinduna.

The church said it was allocated the stand by the traditional leadership of Ntabazinduna in 2017.

The church through its lawyers James, Moyo-Majwabu and Nyoni Legal Practitioner, filed an application at the Bulawayo High Court citing Umguza RDC and Mr Douglas Ndiweni as respondents.

The church, which is being represented by its Bulawayo provincial secretary, Mr Caleb Chidakwa, is seeking an order permanently interdicting Mr Ndiweni from constructing any structure on its stand in Ward Six in Ntabazinduna under Chief Ndiweni's area in Umguza District.

The church also wants the court to direct Umguza RDC to grant it permission to put up a building on the disputed piece of land.

In his founding affidavit, Mr Chidakwa said their application for a church stand was accepted by the then Chief Felix Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni who has since been dethroned and a local headman only identified as Mr N Ncube in court papers.

Mr Chidakwa said following an offer letter dated 5 May, 2017, a site plan was prepared by the Department of Physical Planning in the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works. He said the plan was handed over to Umguza RDC last year in October.

"Despite having received the application, Umguza RDC failed to process and grant its approval to our building plans.

On 4 June, 2020, the church instructed its lawyers to write a letter to Umguza RDC enquiring about the application but there was no response," said Mr Chidakwa.

"A number of phone calls were subsequently made by our lawyers, but again there was no favourable response from the council because the person handling the matter, one Engineer Masocha was not available at the time."

Mr Chidakwa said when council eventually responded to their letter, it advised the church that is would act on its application but nothing to date has come up.

"It is important to point out that since 2017, the church has been paying the annual renewal fees for the stand and the last payment was done in July 2021. There is no good reason why Umguza RDC has not approved our application for a church stand given that we had submitted the building plans, site plan and diagrams," he said.

"No reason has been given for this inordinate delay in approving the application which was sanctioned by the traditional leadership way back in 2017."

Mr Chidakwa argued that due to the unexplained delay in processing the application, Mr Ndiweni, who was cited as a second respondent, is now taking advantage of the vacuum in decision making by Umguza RDC.

"The second respondent has unlawfully and without consent of the church, imposed himself on the stand and has started digging a foundation for the construction of his homestead. The church notified the council but nothing has been done to stop the second respondent from carrying out his unlawful act." he said.

Mr Chidakwa said by virtue of an offer letter from traditional leaders, the land belonged to the church.

"It is just and proper for this honourable court to grant the applicant an order compelling Umguza RDC to approve the building plan. It will also be just and proper for the court to interdict the second respondent from setting foot on the stand and subsequently stopping all construction works," he said.

The council and Mr Ndiweni are yet to respond.

Source - The Chronicle