BY CHARLES LAITON

THE Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) has approached the High Court seeking to reclaim Mujingwe Conservancy in Masvingo, which it claims was illegally seized from a mining firm by another company and several individuals.

In an application, through its acting director-general George Manyumwa, ZimParks said Haigwari Safaris (Pvt) Ltd evicted Apatron Mining Fort Rixon (Apatron) from the conservancy, which apparently is under the control of ZimParks.

Apatron was evicted through a default judgment.

“The applicant (ZimParks) only learnt of this default judgment when the ninth respondent (Apatron) was ejected from Mujingwe Conservancy by the first to the eighth respondents on December 10, 2019. The applicant had peaceful possession of the land at this stage. The peaceful possession was interfered with by the first to the eighth respondents, who have now taken the land (Mujingwe Conservancy) and settled there while at the same time conducting operations therefrom,” Manyumwa said in his founding affidavit.

According to the court papers, after the ejectment, Apatron filed an application for rescission of the default judgment and another one for stay of execution pending the finalisation of the application for rescission, but its application for stay of execution was dismissed on the basis that execution had already taken place.

However, ZimParks still maintains that the lease agreement between the Environment and Tourism ministry and Haigwari Safaris (Pvt) Ltd and the other respondents, who have since taken occupation of the conservancy, was cancelled way back in 2014.

“This is an urgent chamber application for an order restoring the status quo ante (previously existing state of affairs), restoring undisturbed possession of the land to the applicant. The first to the eighth respondents cannot have access to the land until they prove their case against the applicant,” Manyumwa said.

“Consequently, the applicant has also made a case for the ejectment of the first to the eighth respondents. They have no right to be on the land since the dispute under HC1057/19 is still live and their claim to the land is still in dispute. Should the dispute under HC1057/19 be resolved in the favour of the first to the eighth respondents, they would then have the right to move on to the property and only then.”

However, in response to the application, Haigwari Safaris and all the other cited respondents in the matter denied having evicted Apatron from the land in question, saying the miners were “still on the conservancy and carrying out their duties in harmony with them”.

The matter is pending.