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Zimbabwe ConCourt to decide definition of rural land

by Staff reporter
13 Jun 2024 at 06:45hrs | Views
The Constitutional Court must decide if a farm near Bulawayo, incorporated into Bulawayo City Council in 1999, still qualifies as rural land. The distinction affects compensation processes for state-acquired land: rural landowners get compensated for improvements only, while urban landowners get compensated for both land and improvements, with urban land being more valuable.

Mr. Alistair Michael Fletcher owns the farm, which has been restricted by state caveats since a compulsory acquisition order in August 2000. Fletcher wants to challenge a Supreme Court decision that dismissed his appeal to lift these caveats. The Constitutional Court, now granting him leave to appeal, noted that previous rulings overlooked the 1999 incorporation of the land into Bulawayo's urban area, a crucial change.

The legal dispute hinges on the interpretation of section 16B of the former constitution and its relevance after the land was reclassified as urban. The High Court previously ruled it had jurisdiction to hear Fletcher's case, but the Supreme Court disagreed, saying it lacked jurisdiction due to the land acquisition provisions.

Justice Patel, writing for the Constitutional Court, highlighted the misapplication of laws governing land acquisition, noting the likelihood of the Supreme Court's decision being overturned on appeal. The court aims to clarify conflicting legal interpretations and address the public interest in resolving this constitutional matter. Minister Anxious Masuka, the Registrar of Deeds, and Mr. Robert Njani are named as respondents in the case.

Source - The Herald