Malawi Sun Hotel and Conference Centre has dragged to court former minister of Local Government and Rural Development Trasizio Thom Gowelo alongside Blantyre City Council (BCC) over alleged unlawful acquisition of land belonging to another developer in the Blantyre central business district (CBD).
Private practice lawyer Lusungu Gondwe, representing Malawi Sun Hotel confirmed that the piece of land under dispute is situated in Blantyre CBD on plot number BC 173 which used to house the popular Moti’s Mini Market shop at the corner of Haile Selassie and Mandala roads.
Malawi Sun Hotel and Conference Centre, previously known as Eclipse Limited, claim lawful possession of the land by Gowelo, who is also Blantyre City West member of Parliament (MP) on Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) ticket.
The hotel has also taken to court BCC for allegedly leasing the piece of land to Gowelo while their existing leasehold interest was still in force. at the time of obtaining the land, Gowelo was the line minister to whom the council was reporting.
BCC leased the land to Gowelo on February 13 2015 for a period of 66 years at K4.5 million.
An affidavit signed by Muhammed Ahmed, managing director of the hospitality facility, shows that the last valuation of the land conducted by property management and valuation firm Knight Frank on February 1 2015 put the land’s market value in the region of K194 million.
The affidavit further notes that BCC cancelled its lease in respect of the land around July 22 2015, but granted the same to Gowelo on February 13 2015, which was five months earlier.
Malawi Sun Hotel further argues the transaction was conducted in a manner that was “suspicious, irregular and in bad faith” as it only learnt about a new lessee around October 2015 after the new developer cleared the land and erected a temporary fence.
President Peter Mutharika dropped Gowelo from his Cabinet, alongside Paul Chibingu, then minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, on August 17 2015.