Nalucha Ziba Executive Director of Action Aid writes …

The Lusaka High Court this week dismissed with costs the case in which Ms Pheluna Hatembo and Mr Milton Hatembo sued UPND leader Mr. Hakainde Hichilema for trespass and fraudulent acquisition of farm number 1924 in Kalomo. Despite some glaring fraudulent dealings brought to the fore by the two applicant, the Lusaka High Court ruled that the UPND leader is the lawful owner of the contested farm in Kalomo .

This is because Mr Hichilema took advantage of the time lapse, which he did not contest right in the beginning when the matter was taken to court, and submitted, later after filing his defence, that the court should dismiss the case because it was ‘statute barred’. He raised the issue that the so-called land transaction was held in 2005 and because the law says any land matter must be brought to court within 12 years, he asked the court to dismiss the matter. But wait a minute, with whom did he enter into that transaction with if the rightful owners have absolutely no idea about the deal, and when and where it happened?

Come on, we all know that what the UPND leader is trying to hide here are facts of this case which will reveal his dubious dealings in this land matter concerning Farm No. 1924 in Kalomo. He has tried to have this case not heard on merit by using the technical glitch (that it is statute barred) to avoid its prosecution, but in all honesty, this illegality must not be masked.

As explained by the applicants in their grounds of appeal filed before the Court of Appeal, they absolutely had no idea that the transaction took place in 2005, which means Mr Hichilema’s claims that the land deal took place in that year are flawed. This is the detail that has compelled the applicants to appeal the ruling of the High Court in the Court of Appeal so that the issues can be adequately looked into instead of being glossed over.

Three grounds of appeal that have been advanced by the duo deprived of their land by Mr Hichilema are that:

1. The learned trial court judge misdirected herself in both law and fact when she held that the appellant dealt with both Mr Mazuba and the respondent when there is enough evidence on record to show that the first Appellant never dealt with the respondent.
2. The learned trial judge erred in law and fact when she held that the transaction took place in 2005, which is some 15 years ago, when the Appellant have relied on Fraud and Misrepresentation which violates the time of limitation.
3. The learned trial court erred in law and fact when she found as a fact in holding that the Appellants would have known that the respondent has assigned the property to himself when they have never dealt with him.

In all this, Mr Hichilema has not disputed the fact that there was some wrongdoing on his part in the acquisition of the Kalomo farm. Fraud is a serious offence!

For now, we patiently await the outcome of the appeal in the Court of Appeal and hopefully, Mr Hichilema can be made answerable to the allegations leveled against him.

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