Chitando loses court battle

Chitando now serves as Local Government minister.

THE High Court has ordered former Mines and Mining Development minister Winston Chitando to reverse the forfeiture of several gold mining claims owned by a mining firm called Anesu Gold, legal documents gleaned by the Zimbabwe Independent show.

Chitando now serves as Local Government minister.

As explained in the legal documents read by this publication, Anesu Gold issued summons against Chitando (fourth respondent), Onesimo Mazai Moyo (first respondent), Tariro Ndhlovu (second respondent), and Golden Reef Mining (third respondent) seeking for the cancellation or extension of Special Grant 7321.

The applicant also sought forfeiture notices issued by Chitando in respect of seven other claims to be terminated.

Anesu Gold also sought, from the courts, relief to be reinstated ownership rights over the claims in question.

The  matter, heard  between June 27 and November 2023, was presided over by High Court Judge Justice Gladys Mhuru.

The court papers read in part: “On 29 September 2021, plaintiff (Anesu Gold) issued summons against the defendants claiming….that Special Grant No. 7321 (or its successors or extensions or renewal) be cancelled.

“...that the Forfeiture Notice No. 1 of 2019 and forfeiture Notice No. 2 of 2019 in respect of Mining claims: — Registration No. 7342 BM, Regn No. 7343 BM, Regn No. 6633, Registration No. 6634 Registration, No. 6635 Registration, No. 6636, Registration No. 5906 (Mining Claims) be cancelled.”

The mining firm, among its demands, also sought a judgement that would order Golden Reef Mining to vacate from the claims it was now occupying.

“…that third defendant be ordered to vacate forthwith the entire area of the mining claims….that third defendant be ordered to return to plaintiff the forfeited mining claims.

“…that third defendant be ordered to account to plaintiff for all the gold, which it mined from the forfeited mining claims,” the court papers read.

Anesu Gold was represented by Advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara, while Chitando sought legal counsel from Lovemore Madhuku.

Golden Reef Mining was represented by Welshman Ncube.

In essence, Anesu Gold argued that the forfeiture of the gold claims was illegal.

“The claim was based on the grounds that the forfeitures of the mining claims were unlawful, illegal, wrongful and malicious,” the court papers read.

On February 23, as the documents show, the feuding parties were ordered by the High Court to come up with “a statement of agreed facts” and thereafter file heads of arguments.

Subsequently, the High Court would then make a determination.

“On 22 February 2023, it was agreed by counsels that…the parties were to come up with a statement of agreed facts,” the court papers further state.

“On 27 June 2023, parties were directed to file their heads of arguments; plaintiff to file on Wednesday 28 June 2023 and the defendants to file theirs on Monday 10 July 2023. It was agreed that upon filling of the heads of arguments, the court was then to determine the matter on the papers filed.”

In passing her judgement, Mhuru sought to determine whether claims presented by  Anesu Gold Mining were valid at law.

“It is on the basis of these agreed facts and documents filed of record, the court is to determine: — (a) whether the plaintiff has locus standi to bring the present claims. (b) whether the forfeiture of plaintiff’s mining claims under Registration Certificates 6633, 6634, 6635, 6636, 5906, 7342 BM, 7343 BM and 7344 BM was lawful.

“…and (c) whether Special Grant No. 7321 or its extensions or renewals or its successor(s) should be cancelled.”

Justice Mhuru ruled in favour of Anesu Gold Mining.

She noted in her judgement that “as a consequence of the forfeitures of plaintiff’s mining claims, which forfeitures I have found to have been unlawfully done hence are void, a Special Grant No. 7321 was issued to third defendant and thereafter extended.

“The Special Grant issued in favour of third defendant, therefore, similarly cannot be allowed to stand.  In  the  result,  all  the  three  issues referred for determination are determined in favour of plaintiff. The plaintiff ‘s claim as per its summons is hereby granted with costs.”

Forfeiture notices issued in respect of gold claims held by Anesu Gold Mining were cancelled.

“It is, therefore, ordered that…the third defendant returns to plaintiff the said forfeited mining claims. The third defendant vacates forthwith, the entire area of the forfeited mining claims,” Justice Mhuru’s judgement reads.

“The third defendant accounts to the plaintiff for all the gold, which it mined from the said forfeited mining claim.”

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