Commercial Farmers Union of Zimbabwe

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Friction over hunting concessions

Friction over hunting concessions

Former minister of Information Jonathan Moyo

Higher and Tertiary Education Minister, Jonathan Moyo

THE High Court has barred a company tasked to hunt elephants in Tsholotsho North from funding the construction of a football stadium from other operations until a dispute over the legitimate holders of permits in the area has been settled.
Matupula Hunters (Private) Limited successfully sought, and was granted, a court order barring a company called Lodzi Hunters from conducting elephant hunting in the area for the purpose of raising funds for the construction of a football stadium.
The company is contesting the decision by Tsholotsho Rural District Council, to give Lodzi Hunters a permit to conduct elephant hunting in the same area in which it has exclusive safari rights for five years.
This has caused friction between the two companies as Lodzi Hunters — which has the right to hunt in Tsholotsho South, encroached into the northern side, where it claims it is entitled to do so for the purpose of fulfilling the elephant quota for the stadium.
In 2013, Matupula Hunters entered into a five-year agreement with Tsholotsho District Council that ran from January 2013 to December 2014.
The contract gives the firm “the sole and exclusive rights to conduct all safaris” within the Tsholotsho North Concession.
The council has a similar agreement with Lodzi covering Tsholotsho South.
However, in 2015, when the need to fund the construction of the stadium arose, the local authority decided to give Lodzi permission to hunt in the whole of Tsholotsho district, including the area exclusive to Matupula Hunters.
Matupula Hunters engaged the council to settle the matter to no avail, as the local authority, together with Lodzi insisted that they had the right to bring hunters to shoot elephants in Tsholotsho North.
Justice Maxwell Takuva has ruled that it was clear that Matupula Hunters had reasonable prospects of succeeding when the case is finally heard in the court as it had been established that it has a prima facie rights that need to be protected, and therefore issued an order interdicting Tsholotsho Rural District Council from issuing any hunting permits for the area covered by Matupula.
The order also suspended those permits already issued.
“In casu, (in this case) it is undisputed that these agreements are of a commercial nature in the sense that all parties are in it for financial gain or benefit. It is common cause that despite the existence of an agreement with applicant in respect of safaris for Tsholotsho North, the first respondent (council) has entered into another agreement with second respondent (Lodzi Hunters, who was supposed to hunt only in Tsholotsho South) to conduct safaris in applicant’s (Matupula Hunters) concession area namely Tsholotsho North,” the Bulawayo judge said.
“It is not clear how first respondent expects the second respondent and the applicant to operate simultaneously in the same geographical area. What is clear is that on being faced with these facts, a reasonable man might entertain a reasonable apprehension of injury. Accordingly, I so find.”
The judge added that in this case, it was just to issue an interdict barring the council and Lodzi Hunters from continuing with hunting until the rights of Matupula Hunters have been clearly spelt out. He said in the event that hunting is allowed to continue while the matter is still before the courts, the claim for damages would not be an adequate alternative remedy in that the injury will certainly be a continuing violation of Matupula’s right as each successive hunt would represent an injury to the company.
“Each successive hunt will represent an injury to the applicant. The second reason is that the damages will be difficult to assess in that the information on the quantity of bull elephants shot or harvested from Tsholotsho North will be difficult for the applicant to obtain,” he said.
The Tsholotsho stadium project is the brainchild of Higher and Tertiary Education Minister, Jonathan Moyo, who is the legislator for the area and the deal to fund the construction of the facility was negotiated when now Local Government Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere was still in charge of the Water, Climate and Environment, which is now under Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri.
Kasukuwere issued hunting quotas for 50 elephants to the Tsholotsho Rural District Council to support the first stages of the construction of the stadium for Tsholotsho Football Club.
Further hunting permits had been issued for 20 elephants.
Hunters pay anything up to US$30 000 to kill an elephant.
The council now accuses Muchinguri-Kashiri of refusing to issue more elephant quotas for the stadium.

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