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Chitando wades into mining grant war

An investment vehicle linked to former ZANU-PF youth leader, Lewis Matutu, has appealed to the Mines and Mining Development minister Winston Chitando, to intervene in the resources company’s mining claims dispute with Gavin Bredenkamp, who  controls  the Thetford Estate, in Mazowe.

Gavin, is the son of the late John Bredenkamp, and is now running the Thetford Estate.

Matutu’s mining company, Nyamatsanga Mining was allocated a 450 hectares mining grant in the Thetford Estate farm in Mazowe in 2020.

Gavin was also allocated the farm last year following the death of his father.

Gavin now wants Nyamatsanga Mining booted out of the farm and is denying it access to its mining location in Thetford Farm.

Apparently, Nyamatsanga Mining company’s special grant is set to expire next year.

But, Nyamatsanga Mining’s lawyers, Vengai Madzima of Madzima, Chidyausiku and Musera Legal, have since written to Chitando, appealing for his intervention.

“Our client has been made aware that a request was made to your office to cancel the Special Grant based on some spurious claim that there was a need to have an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) certificate pre-issue and that the land in question is a registered conservancy.

“The real motivation behind Bredenkamp denying our client access to its mining location is to push the ‘white domination’ agenda of the Zimbabwe mining industry against the empowerment drive by our government to include and incorporate young indigenous black miners in the industry,” reads part of the letter by the lawyers.

The lawyers further stated that continued domination of the mining industry by the minority is being achieved through continued use of wealth accumulated during the colonial period of suppressing empowerment initiatives through convoluted legal arguments against Special Grants awarded to indigenous Africans by the mines ministry.

They added that they were not pushing the same agenda and or taking the same approach to Special Grants benefitting those of European descent.

The lawyers argued that the ministry as a matter of practice, in contradiction to Bredenkamp’s views, has been issuing Special Grants and Exclusive Prospecting Orders without requesting from applicants to submit an EIA Certificate at application stage.

“It is trite that EIA Certificates are required pre-mining and our client is not being allowed access to achieve this while Bredenkamp has at the same time appointed himself regulator and is demanding sight of the certificate from our client,” said the lawyers.

“It follows that Bredenkamp by questioning your authority to issue the Special Grant which precedes his title in terms of his offer letter should  also question the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural resettlement, Anxious Masuka’s capacity to offer him land of that size.”

They noted that the cancellation premised on non-presentation of an EIA certificate at application level creates precedence for the cancellation of all Special Grants and Exclusive Prospecting Licences orders issued by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development without presentation of EIA certificates.

“The current offer letter for Thertford Farm covers the whole area subject to Nyamatsanga Mine’s Special Grant in the same vein, it is not far-fetched to deduce without having seen the offer letter that it may be in contravention of Statutory Instrument 41/2020. In light of this, we hereby request your Ministry to assist our client full enjoyment and exploitation of its rights in the Special Grant.”

John Bredenkamp’s Thetford Farm has been subject to contestation. Recently, his widow Jennifer Bredenkamp filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court to stop her son Gavin from possessing the family’s farm.

The case was filed under Case Number HC 132/21. Jennifer Bredenkamp and five other applicants are being represented by Atherstone and Cook while Gavin is represented by Titan Law.

The application is seeking protection of Jennifer Bredenkamp and other applicants’ residence and usage of Thetford Farm by interdicting Gavin and the Ministry of Lands from interfering with that residence usage, rights and freedoms until a final decision relating to the rights of the parties are met by the Court.

The move came after a vicious fight erupted within the late tycoon’s family which saw his son Gavin taking steps to evict his mother and siblings from the family’s Thetford Estate Farm.

According to the court documents, the move has exposed his mother’s siblings to the extent of threatening their health, life and property.

According to an argument on the urgency of the matter, the lawyers argued that the evictions are imminent at the insistence of Gavin Bredenkamp against his mother, clearly contrary to Covid-19 regulations relating to evictions hence the need to urgently stop any form of eviction.

In an affidavit dated February 22, 2021, Jennifer noted that she was living under a daily threat of eviction from Gavin hence the reason she and other five applicants had to approach lawyers for legal representation.

According to the court documents, in the year 2000, John Bredenkamp settled at Thetford Farm but shortly thereafter, the farm was listed by the government and converted to state land.

The Bredenkamp family objected to that listing   and requested the government of Zimbabwe to at least allow the family to continue residing and operating the farm on account of its erstwhile status as part owners or beneficiaries of the farm.

While at the material time, the government did not issue an offer letter in the family’s names that allowed the family to continue utilising the land for the next 20 years that is between 2000 and 2020.

In January 2021, Gavin informed Jennifer (the mother) that an offer letter had been issued in his favour by the Minister of Lands and that he wanted his two sisters and other key employees at the farm to immediately vacate.

Thereafter, Gavin’s lawyers issued a three months’ notice for her to vacate the farm. Business Times

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