Econet wins case against Chiefs

Last week Econet Wireless Zimbabwe took headlines on not so much of a techie story, this was a brawl with some traditional chiefs over its erection of a base station on an enshrined hill leading to excavation of dead bodies.
THE case in which two Masvingo chiefs are demanding 2 000 head of white cattle from Econet Wireless failed to kick off at Chief Shumba’s traditional court after the Econet failed to turn up due to the outrageous demands.
Econet Wireless was summoned to appear before Chief Shumba, Mr Mugaviri Chikava’s traditional court at Chamakondo Business Centre in Masvingo Central for allegedly defiling the sacred caves where the Murinye and Mugabe clan ancestors’ remains were interred.
This story however was not as fresh as the court case since it happened way back 2010.
The chiefs demanded that Econet pay 2000 white cattle after their own traditional court hearing.
Econet Chief Mr Douglas Mboweni reportedly scoffed at the court outcome which demanded him to pay more than $2 million equivalent to a traditional court.
According to Zimbabwean law, a case of such value can only be trialled at the supreme court let alone the magistrate court cannot trial a caser worth over $10 0000
This will simply mean the chiefs should have been more advised and approach a much higher court as a case of such penalty automatically rested outside their own jurisdiction. The chiefs later on approached the high court with matter as an urgent case.
In 2010, Econet and Masvingo Rural district Council entered into a lease agreement in respect of Sviba Hills near Great Zimbabwe
The chiefs contend that Econet did not consult them when it embarked on the project.
In an opposing affidavit by Econet general counsel Ms Sheila Mugugu, the two chiefs sat in council meetings where the lease of the land was discussed and approved.
The chiefs, according to Econet, knew of the agreement and that they had a long time to contest it.
She stated that the exposure of the remains was purely accidental because Econet did not know that there were graves on the hills.
Econet then argued that the matter was not urgent because the chiefs were aware of the project since July 2010 but did not bother to challenge it.
However yesterday the High Court has dismissed an urgent application by the two Masvingo chiefs to stop Econet Wireless from constructing a base station on Sviba Hills near the Great Zimbabwe.
“I am therefore satisfied that the application lacks merit for want of urgency and is dismissed on that basis. The applicants shall pay the respondent’s costs,” ruled Justice Musakwa.
Justice Joseph Musakwa ordered the chiefs to pay for the legal costs incurred by Econet in the failed application.

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