Anglican Church claims ownership of disputed land

THE new residential developments by Chirox Properties in Chitungwiza between St Mary’s Police Station and Chikwanha Shopping Centre are being carried out on land legally belonging to the Anglican Church, the Zimbabwe Independent has established.

Paidamoyo Muzulu

Chirox, owned by former Chitungwiza councillor Retired Major Brighton Chirongwe, is developing over 200 residential stands and several institutional stands of mixed density on 82 hectares of land which forms part of the remainder of St Mary’s Farm in the district of Salisbury.

The development plans for the project with stands ranging in size from 300 to 800 square metres have already been deposited and approved by the Department of Physical Planning.

While the project was endorsed by council, leading to Chitungwiza municipality director of planning Conrad Muchesa lodging the designs of the new development with the Ministry of Local Government for approval in 2012, it has emerged the land still belongs to the Anglican Church.

Anglican Diocese of Harare registrar Michael Chingore on Wednesday confirmed the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) still has title deeds to the said land.

“The remainder of St Mary’s has never been transferred to any third party and title deeds to the land are still in the CPCA’s name,” Chingore said.

The purported transfer of the land took place during the protracted legal wrangle between the breakaway churches led by Nolbert Kunonga and Chad Gandiya which ended with a Supreme Court ruling in November 2012.

Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba then ruled the CPCA under Gandiya’s leadership was the legitimate owner of all Anglican properties in the Diocese of Harare.

Kunonga’s faction sold or leased out many of the institution’s properties during its short but turbulent reign.

“Some of these things happened during that dark period when Kunonga was illegally in charge of the church properties,” Chingore said.
He said the church donated some of the land close to St Mary’s Police Station to the state, but it still holds title to the rest.

Government last year appointed an audit team led by Local Government deputy minister Joel Matiza to investigate allegations of corrupt land allocations and development in Chitungwiza and Seke.

Government has since called for the halting of all illegal developments in the dormitory town.

The Matiza-led team is still to fully make public its findings and recommendations.

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