Last week saw the overnight demolition of the pole and iron sheets flea stalls, as NSSA showed its serious intention to develop the area
MUTARE will soon have a major facelift after the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) repossessed the prime Meikles Park where it intends to build a multi-million facility which includes a hotel, a shopping mall, a bank, convenience shops and a fuel station, among other things, Post Business can reveal.
Meikles Park, an open space situated at the heart of Mutare’s Central Business District, measures 13 583 square metres.
The prime land has been at the centre of a protracted legal wrangle between NSSA and Stallvic Enterprises, a company linked to Mutare businessman, Mr Isau Mupfumi.
The protracted legal wrangle was raging on for more than a decade, until the recent signing of a deed of settlement between NSSA and Stallvic Enterprises for the former to have possession of the property.
Correspondence between NSSA and Stallvic attorneys which this publication has in possession confirmed that a deeds of settlement was signed between the parties.
NSSA was represented by Sawyer and Mkushi Legal Practitioners, while Stallvic was represented by Mugadza Chinzamba and Partners.
Despite its prime location in the CBD, for years Meikles Park was being used as a flea market, thereby turning it into an eyesore.
Last week saw the overnight demolition of the pole and iron sheets flea market stalls as NSSA showed its serious intention to develop the area. Commenting on the latest development, NSSA deputy marketing and public relations director, Mr Tendai Mutseyekwa said: “NSSA intends to build a mixed-use facility which among other things includes a hotel, a shopping mall, a bank and a fuel station with associated convenience shops. We believe that the envisioned facility will provide a significant facelift for the entire city.
“Currently, NSSA is seized with the pre-developmental phase which involves, but is not limited to due diligence, research, planning and permitting. At this stage, it is very difficult to give specific timelines for development.”
Mr Mutseyekwa also confirmed that Stallvic has moved out of Meikles Park.
“The process of repossessing Meikles Park was successful as Stallvic Enterprises vacated the premises by January 31, 2024,” said Mr Mutseyekwa.
On January 11, NSSA’s attorneys wrote to Stallvic Enterprises’ lawyers reminding them on the need for their client to vacate Meikles Park.
“We refer to the deed of settlement signed by the parties in the above matter (NSSA vs Stallvic Enterprises Private Limit: Case Number HC 6540/22) and to subsequent telephone conversations between our respective clients’ representatives wherein it was confirmed that your client and all those claiming occupation through it have effectively vacated Meikles Park.
“Please, be advised that what our client is merely interested in is vacant possession of its property. No formal hand-over is necessary since there is nothing to hand over, it being a vacant and undeveloped piece of land.
“Accordingly, our client will accept your client’s word that it has indeed vacated Meikles Park, and will proceed to take full control and secure the same. Naturally, your client is free to remove any of its items that may still be on the property,” reads a letter from Sawyer and Mkushi to Stallvic Enterprises’ attorneys.
In response, Stallvic Enterprises, through Mugadza Chinzamba and Partners wrote on January 12, 2024: “Our client paid rent for January and thus will vacate on January 31, 2024.
“However, our client instructs that the site is not really a vacant site as there are toilets and offices which are susceptible to vandalism should they be left unattended. Our client thus take no responsibility for any damages to the toilets and offices should they be found damaged after they leave.”
The ownership wrangle over Meikles Park dates back to 2011.
NSSA at one time dragged City of Mutare to court over the ownership of the piece of land under Case Number: HC11346/11.
Mutare City Council opposed NSSA’s court application, arguing that it had long repossessed the park after NSSA failed to develop it within the stipulated time.
In 2014, the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works intervened in the dispute, allegedly took over the land and awarded it to Stallvic Enterprises on a lease to purchase agreement.
ln 2017, the land was also under probe by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC).
ZACC investigators were probing how Mutare City Council ceded the lucrative piece of land to Stallvic Enterprises under the instructions of the then Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Dr Ignatius Chombo.
ZACC officials were also keen to understand whether all processes were followed to ensure compliance with the Urban Council’s Act when the land swap deal was entered into.
However, findings of the probe were never made public.
Post Business, however, understands that as part of the deal, which was strongly opposed by councillors, the local authority was reportedly compensated with 29 hectares of State land for ceding the 13 583 square metres park to Stallvic Enterprises.
When Stallvic took over ownership of the park, it promised to construct a five-star hotel and a car park there.
This was after the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works, on April 23, 2014, wrote to Stallvic Enterprises stating: “We are pleased to offer you the land commonly known as Meikles Park in Mutare, Reservation of 27 on the lease with an option to purchase basis.
“However, please note that the ministry will offer you a four-year lease agreement when you have paid the annual rental of $68 100. We hope that you will urgently pay the said amount so that you can get your lease agreement in order to commence construction.”
No construction was ever done, save for the erection of flea market stalls.