Gweru City stuck in messy land deal with Midlands Industrial Development

THE opposition MDC-led Gweru City Council (GCC) is embroiled in a messy land deal with a company called Midlands Industry Development
(MID) (Pvt) Ltd amid concerns of title having been clandestinely transferred into the latter’s ownership before full conditions as set by the agreement of sale were met, Zim Morning Post can reveal.

The land in question, 25 subdivided plots, all two hectares each, were allocated to MID in 1994, implying the land deal was concluded between MID and a Zanu PF-led council.

This publication understands that upon allocation of what initially were supposed to be industrial stands, MID paid $2 000 per stand as deposit, an amount Gweru City Fathers now admit was only equivalent to survey funds per plot.

By implicature, MID literally got the stands for nothing, naturally raising questions among local government experts of who may have benefited from this particular deal.

Meanwhile, by-laws governing municipalities in Zimbabwe are very clear, requiring that clinched industrial stands be developed within five years of the deal being concluded, failure of which the land would be transferred back to the respective city councils.

A clause which allowed MID to get the virgin industrial piece of land and stated in full council meeting May this year read:

“…this sale was subject to the condition that MID would take title to the stands once the developments agreed on were effected to council’s satisfaction.

“In terms of the development clause in agreement of sale signed in in 1994, MID was required to establish on this estate, which essential virgin land, municipal services such as roads, drainage, water and sewer reticulation as as well public lighting.”

“Further, in terms of clause 3 and 10 of the same agreement, MID were obliged to effect development on the stands by erecting buildings or improvements within a period of five years from the date of purchase,” the minutes elaborated.

But by 1999, which was five years down the line, not a single effort at developing the industrial plots MID (Pvt) Ltd acquired had been made.

Subsequently, GCC notified MID of the termination of contract following their breach of agreement emanating from failure to satisfy development benchmarks.

In response, the land developer notified the local authority that the land had already been bonded to Standard Chartered Bank, which later on turned out to be for financing a different entity owned by MID’s Bill Moore.

But in events prior to the bonding of land by StanChart, Council had instructed it’s then legal practitioners, Messrs Danziger and Partners, to include in the land transfer agreement clauses which would prohibit MID to assume ownership of the 50-hectare land in the event they did not honour their contractual developmental obligations.

In 2019 the MID owner, Moore died but had already sold his interest in MID to BancABC.

The result was the caving in of City Fathers to a compromised solution whereby they would embrace MID remnants, and BancABC.

But the chaotic situation emanating from the resolve by council to now reluctantly have MID pay the land under dispute to pay the land’s intrinsic value and its attendant rates accrued over the years is a cause for concern considering that council should also uplift the fulfilment of the above conditions.