Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
INDIGENOUS farmers resettled in the Save Conservancy will remain in occupation of the property after the Supreme Court struck off the roll the case in which a consortium of white farmers was challenging a High Court decision upholding the acquisition of the conservancy by the Government for resettlement.
Black farmers were resettled in the conservancy under the Government’s wildlife-based land reform programme.
Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza, Justice Bharat Patel and Justice Anne-Mary Gowora on Friday struck the case off the roll after the indigenous farmers’ lawyer Advocate Thabani Mpofu successfully argued that the appeal was defective because his clients were not cited in the matter.
Through their lawyer, Advocate David Ochieng, the white farmers had approached the superior court seeking to quash the lower court decision.
The lower court also rejected their urgent chamber application seeking to be heard on the delay in being issued a hunting permit by the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and the then Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Management after having been granted a hunting quota for 2013.
The three appeal judges accepted contentions by the indigenous farmers that the failure by the former farmers to cite them made the appeal defective.
The white farmers had only cited National Parks and Wildlife, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and former Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara. But they had not included the farmers at the centre of the dispute. Professor Mutambara had been cited as respondent on the basis that he chaired a Cabinet committee dealing with the matter and after meeting the European Union Head of
Delegation to Zimbabwe gave the applicant the view that the permit would be issued by April 23, 2013.
In her brief ruling, Justice Gwaunza said it was clear that the applicants had failed to cite the new farmers who were part of proceedings during the High Court proceedings rendering the appeal defective.
“There is no proper appeal before this court. The matter is therefore struck off the roll,” he said.
Adv Mpofu, argued that the failure by the former farmers to cite new farmers on the property made their appeal defective.
“An appeal that does not cite the party who the judgment was in favour of clearly is invalid, said Adv Mpofu.
In his response, Adv Ochieng said they could not cite them because they were not known. “They were not cited because it could not be established who they are,” said Adv Ochieng.
The judges, however, told Adv Ochieng that the black farmers were known and had adequately identified themselves during the hearing of the case in the High Court.