High Court Rules Private School Takeover Legal

THE High Court has endorsed the takeover of an elite private school, Rydings Primary in Mashonaland West, by Gerald Mlotshwa, a personal lawyer of the Minister of State for National Security, Lands and Land Reform and Resettlement, Didymus Mutasa.


Dismissing an application by Rydings’ board of trustees challenging the takeover of the school by Mlotshwa, Justice Susan Mavangira ruled that the lawyer was allocated a farm where the school was built and, therefore, owns the school.  

“The acquiring authority (Mutasa’s ministry) acquired Rydings of Enthorpe (Farm). That land now belongs to the state. It is up to the acquiring authority or the state as owner, to do as it pleases with the land.

The land was offered to the second respondent, Mlotshwa. This court cannot, in my view, interfere with the allocation of the piece of land in issue…There is no merit in the applicant’s (board of trustees) case.”

Her judgement nullified a provisional order she granted the trustees in 2007 barring Mlotshwa from interfering with the running of the school, which attracts pupils from the southern African region.

“The provisional order granted on 21 September, 2007 must be discharged,” ruled Mavangira.

In 2007 Mutasa designated the farm on which the school was built and allocated it to Mlotshwa, who in turn appointed businessman Temba Mliswa as chairman of the school’s board of governors.

The school’s board of trustees led by Richard Chimuka then filed a High Court application seeking a provisional order compelling Mutasa to set aside the notice of acquisition of Rydings of Enthorpe Farm and its allocation to Mlotshwa.

Mavangira interdicted Mutasa, Mlotshwa and Mliswa from interfering with the administration, assets and programmes of Rydings.

Mlotshwa filed a notice of appeal against Mavangira’s ruling.

Rydings School sits on a 1100-acre farm and prior to the takeover it was run by a non-profit organisation, which used the farming produce to subsidise school fees for pupils who came from as far as Zambia and Malawi.

BY LUCIA MAKAMURE

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