By Bulawayo Correspondent
A LOCAL conservancy company, Apatron Mining has dragged President Emmerson Mnangagwa; Defence Minister, Oppah Muchinguri and Commander of the Defence Forces, Valerio Sibanda to court for deploying soldiers to unlawfully evict the firm from its property in Mwenezi district in Masvingo province.
Aptaron is also suing other 12 respondents.
The company’s Managing Director Vusumuzi Mazibuko Wednesday filed an application at the Bulawayo High Court challenging the presence of armed soldiers at Mujingwa Conservancy.
“This is an application to declare unconstitutional and therefore unlawful the entry into and continuing presence of armed soldiers at Mujingwa Conservancy, Mwenezi. Consequential relief is sought to the effect that the soldiers be ordered to vacate the conservancy,” submitted Mazibuko in his application.
According to Mazibuko, on 11 October 2016, Apatron received an offer letter to enter into a joint venture of the conservancy with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks).
“The offer letter was signed by the board chairman (Zimparks) on the 11th of October 2016 and by the Permanent Secretary on the 12th of October 2016 and myself on behalf of the applicant on the 12th October 2016. It was thereafter approved by the 15th respondent herein,” he said.
Mazibuko said on 12 October 2016, Apatron received a letter from the director commercial of Zimparks indicating that the partnership agreement was being drafted and shall be forwarded in due course.
“Meanwhile, we moved onto the site and commenced working as per the agreement of the parties. The joint venture agreement was for a period of 25 years running from 2017 to 2041. This therefore means that the joint venture agreement is still extant,” argued Mazibuko in his application papers.
He stated that on 23 July 2019, one of the respondents obtained an order in default against a non-existent entity known as Vusimuzi Mazibuko trading as Mining Fort Rixon.
Following the default order, the applicant was ejected from the conservancy on 11 December 2019.
“When executing his duties, the 5th respondent (Masvingo Sheriff) enlisted the services of 10 soldiers of whom five were armed with AK 47 rifles. The soldiers wreaked havoc and damaged property,” said Mazibuko.
Following the army’s intervention Mazibuko said the company instructed its legal practitioners to lodge a complainant with the Deputy Sheriff of Zimbabwe, Macduff Madega who is also cited as the fourth respondent.
“Despite the complaints to the 2nd respondent (Sibanda) and 3rd respondent (Muchinguri), the soldiers have maintained an armed presence at the conservancy. In terms of section 208(4) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, serving members of the security must not be employed or engaged in civilian institutions except in periods of public emergency,” submitted Mazibuko in the application.
“When the 5th respondent (Madega) enlisted the services of the soldiers, there was no public emergency. In fact the soldiers were used in a civil commercial dispute which culminated in the applicant being evicted unlawfully from the conservancy.
“Soldiers cannot be used in any due process proceedings. It is an anathema and a violation of the Constitution,” further submitted Mazibuko.
The respondents are yet to respond to the application.