BY TAURAI MANGUDHLA
AN investment vehicle fronted by former Zanu PF youth leader Lewis Matutu is locked in a turf war with Gavin Bredenkamp after it was allocated a 450 hectares mining grant on the latter’s Thetford Estate farm in Mazowe, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.
Gavin, is the son of the late John Bredenkamp, who was one of Zimbabwe’s top businessmen with interests spanning mining, agriculture and arms.
Documents gleaned by the Independent this week show that Matutu was granted mining rights at the heart of Bredenkamp’s 1 500ha Thetford Estate in Mazowe in February 2020 through an investment vehicle called Nyamatsanga Mining.
Bredenkamp was allocated the expansive farm in 2020, at a time the government was downsizing farms.
This has subsequently triggered a fierce dispute between the parties, with Bredenkamp fighting to boot out Matutu.
With the special grant set to expire next year, Matutu’s outfit has desperately sought to exploit the lucrative claims.
But Bredenkamp has resisted Matutu’s moves, insisting that he has rights over the land.
Although mining takes precedence over farming under Zimbabwe’s current legislation, Bredenkamp is armed with protection under the heritage sites as his farm falls within The Upper Mazowe Heritage site and is home to some rare ancient rock art. The farm is also an animal sanctuary and private game reserve with protected species such as the rhino.
However, sources close to the land wrangle say Bredenkamp, could have corrupted or intimidated authorities because of the proximity of his family to the corridors of power.
But Bredenkamp, through his legal counsel, Titan Law, insists he is on the right side of the law, should the matter spill into the courts.
The farm in dispute was gazetted for redistribution under the land reform programme in 2000, but the Bredenkamps remain unaffected.
Bredenkamp applied for an offer letter over the farm, which was granted on December 30, 2020, about eight months after issuance of the special grant to Nyamatsanga Mining.
Sources close to the squabble say the warring parties have been trying to resolve their differences through dialogue.
Efforts to get a comment from Mines and Mining Development minister Winston Chitando were fruitless at the time of going to print. Agriculture minister Anxious Masuka refused to comment on the matter referring questions to his permanent secretary John Basera.
“These are operational (and) not policy issues, so talk to Basera,” Masuka said on Wednesday.
Basera could not be reached for comment.
Bredenkamp’s lawyers confirmed an offer letter was issued for Thetford Estate.
“There is no special grant issued for the immovable property known as Thetford Estate. If there was ever a special grant issued for Thetford Estate or any portion of Thetford Estate, that special grant cannot, in our view, have been procedurally issued having due regard to the relevant provisions of the Mines and Minerals Act, as well as general government policy in relation to the issuance of special grants in areas subject to wildlife and other conservation initiatives. Thetford is essentially a private wildlife game reserve and has been, for many years,” Titan Law said.
“Additionally, Thetford is a historic site conservancy and resource for tourism as it falls under the Upper Mazowe National Monument as it contains some of the pristine rock art within the national monument. This rock art has survived between 7 000 and 13 000 years.
“We can state with absolute certainty that our client did not corrupt any land officials in respect of the allocation of the offer letter to him (and) our client has not denied any person with bona fide mineral rights, lawfully and procedurally issued, to lawfully and procedurally execute the same in accordance with the laws of Zimbabwe.
“Our client has simply asked those persons claiming to exercise those rights to show that the Mines and Minerals Act as well as the Environmental Management Act have been strictly complied with before any such consent is granted to enter upon Thetford Estate. This has been made clear in writing,” the lawyers said.
Bredenkamp said Thetford is a vibrant and productive agricultural and wildlife conservation enterprise that cannot be unlawfully disturbed by persons.
Nyamatsanya’s lawyer Vengai Madzima said Matutu had a special grant.
“They (Bredenkamp’s camp) should comply with the law and allow my clients access to their special grant and then query, you don’t take the law into your own hands,” Madzima said in a telephone interview.
“They can just query whatever they feel is wrong with the relevant authorities.”