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Land law – Sale of government pool houses – Eligibility to purchase dependant on 2 vital pre-requisites
The Appellant is an Indian National who came to Zambia in 1972. He is a permanent resident of Zambia, holds an entry permit and has been on such permit since his arrival in the country. He taught in various government schools and as an incidence of his employment was in April 1988 allocated Flat No LUS/2046/Katete/11 Lusaka, which is at centre of the dispute. He lived in that flat for many years and was in fact residing there at the time of the commencement of proceedings. When the government came up with the policy of selling government pool houses to sitting tenants, the Appellant applied to buy the flat in which he resided. However, he received no response and later it occurred to the Appellant that the government had sold the flat to the Respondent. The Respondent, having paid for the flat and obtained a certificate of title, took out proceedings in the lower court claiming that he was the legitimate owner of the flat in dispute and sought vacant possession. Evidence was given that as a permanent resident, the Appellant had applied to the President for consent to purchase the flat but had received no response. It was also demonstrated in the lower court that the Respondent held a certificate of title over the flat, the sale and purchase transaction with the government having been consummated. The High Court found in favour of the Respondent, reasoning that the Appellant did not purchase the property in question as he did not obtain the consent in writing of the President as required under section 3 of the Lands Act No 29 of 1995. The court accordingly ordered the Appellant to yield vacant possession of the flat to the Respondent. Unhappy with that judgment, the Appellant appealed arguing that the trial court fell into error when it held that the Appellant was not entitled to purchase the flat.
There is no doubt, whatsoever that, as a permanent resident, the Appellant was entitled to own land and, therefore, that he was eligible to purchase the government pool house. Such eligibility, however, is conditional on satisfaction of two vital prerequisites: firstly, that he was a sitting tenant, and secondly, that he obtained the consent in writing of the President in accordance with the requirements of section 3(3) of the Lands Act. There is no dispute in the present case that the Appellant was a sitting tenant in the subject flat. The evidence clearly indicates that the Appellant did not satisfy the requirement of obtaining Presidential consent in writing.