Chiredzi rancher seeks to evict illegal settlers

THE owner of Bateluers Peak Farm, popularly known as Masapasi Ranch, has approached Chiredzi Magistrates’ Courts in a bid to evict over 150 families he alleges illegally settled on his property during the fast-track land reform programme.

BY GARIKAI MAFIRAKUREVA

Craig Henning, a South African national, is arguing that his ranch is protected under the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA).

According to Henning, who is being represented by Emmanuel Chibudu of Kwirira and Magwaliba Legal Practitioners, BIPPA is a legal instrument that establishes specific rights and obligations to meet the primary purpose of protecting foreign investments against discriminatory measures like policy inconsistencies by the host State.

He further stated that it ensures reciprocal encouragement, promotion and protection of investments, thus enabling conditions conducive to increase investment.

Zimbabwe has signed and ratified BIPPAs with Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, China, India, Russia, Kuwait, Iran, South Africa, Yugoslavia and the OPEC Fund.

Henning further argued that he previously enjoyed undisturbed occupation of the ranch before locals located near the conservancy started establishing temporary structures, which gradually turned permanent on his property.

In his founding affidavit, Henning named five respondents whom he said were self-imposed village chairpersons of the five new villages in the ranch: Gilbert Chibangwa, Elizabeth Magumbo, Peter Mashava, Tadious Muudzwa and another only identified as Mutsumbe – and Masapa Mbodza whom he alleges claims to have authority over all the five villages as the sixth respondent.

The rancher also cited Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri as the seventh respondent.

Environment minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu is the eighth respondent because he is responsible for the tourism sector and under whose ministry the ranch falls.

Henning’s founding affidavit reads: “The first to fifth respondents with their villagers have exercised massive deforestation clearing land and constructing huts using poles. They also hunt animals in the conservancy for food on a massive scale. Their settling in the conservancy has further caused some animals to run away from most parts of the conservancy where the squatters activities are rampant.”

The matter is set to be heard on December 4.

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