The University of Zambia has sued 12 tenants who are allegedly occupying its houses illegally in the Lusaka High Court, seeking an order to evict them from its properties in Lusaka’s Commonwealth Village, Roma, Kalundu and Rhodespark areas.
The institution has sued the Attorney General, Lemmy Namayanga, Lameck Simwanza, Robert Musukwa, Paul Mumba, among others.
In a statement of claim filed in the Lusaka High Court, May 17, UNZA stated that sometime in 1973, the Commonwealth countries established the Commonwealth Youth Project (CYP) whose mandate was to empower youths in Commonwealth countries.
It added that Zambia was appointed to host the regional office for the said project in Africa.
The higher learning institution stated that in order to accommodate the Commonwealth regional office in Zambia, an agreement was entered between UNZA, the State and the CYP member countries whereby government allocated the university’s properties to the CPY regional office.
UNZA claimed that it was agreed that upon the closure of the CYP regional office, the properties would revert back to the university.
“By virtue of employment or otherwise with the CYP, the houses were eventually allocated to the tenants by CYP regional office. The defendants had been legally occupying the said houses until March 31, 2014 when the CYP closed its operations at the Zambian regional office,” read the statement of claim.
UNZA further claimed that upon closure of the regional office, the defendants ceased to legally occupy its houses and were required to vacate the houses immediately.
The institution stated that it the made a follow up with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the need to retain possession of the said houses after closure of the CYP regional office, to which the ministry said the houses should revert back to UNZA.
UNZA stated in October 2017, it wrote to each of its tenants, giving them three months notice to vacate the houses but they refused to do so, stating that they had a running lease agreement with the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
“Later in May 2018, the defendants were given seven days’ notice to vacate the houses but they refused to vacate the property saying they only recognize the Ministry of Youth and Sports as their rightful landlord,” read the statement of claim.
UNZA contends that it is the authorized owner of the houses and wants to allocate them to some of its staff members without accommodation who were on the waiting list.
It lamented that attempts to evict the tenants had proved futile causing it to lose out on rental income from the time CYP ceased it’s operations.
UNZA is now seeking a declaration that the houses in Commonwealth Village, Roma, Kalundu and Rhodespark belong to it.
It further wants a declaration that upon closure of the Commonwealth Youth Project, the property be reverted to it.
UNZA is also seeking an order of eviction of the defendants from the houses, damages for loss of rental income, interests, costs and any other relief that the court may deem fit.