The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Econet Scoffs At Chiefs' Demands

Masvingo Bureau — 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 mobile phone company failed to turn up arguing that white cattle were not indigenous to Zimbabwe.

Econet Wireless was summoned to appear before Chief Shumba, Mr Mugaviri Chikava's traditional court at Chamakondo Business Centre in Masvingo Central yesterday, for allegedly defiling the sacred caves where the Murinye and Mugabe clan ancestors' remains were interred.

Chief Murinye, Mr Ephias Munodawafa and Chief Mugabe, Mr Matubede Mudavanhu, had summoned Econet Wireless to appear before a traditional court and pay compensation for desecrating their sacred ancestral caves while erecting a booster in Sviba Hills near the Great Zimbabwe monuments.

However, in a letter addressed to Chief Shumba and his community court dated December 4, Econet Wireless chief executive officer Mr Douglas Mboweni said the claims by Chiefs Murinye and Mugabe against his firm exceeded the monetary jurisdiction of the chief's court which is US$10 000.

Mr Mboweni said the claim of 2 000 herd of cattle by the two chiefs when considered in monetary terms even exceeded the monetary jurisdiction of the magistrates' court saying only the High Court could handle a case of such monetary magnitude.

"The claim by the two chiefs (Murinye and Mugabe) clearly exceeds the monetary jurisdiction of the chief's court which is US$10 000. The plaintiff's claim is for 2 000 herd of white cattle.

"White cattle are not indigenous to Zimbabwe and consequently there are very few such cattle in Zimbabwe and as a result of the above they are very valuable cattle which we understand are valued at an average of US$750 per head. This value places the plaintiff's claim beyond your jurisdiction as the total value of the claim is US$1,5 million," said Mr Mboweni.

The Econet Wireless boss added that even if the value of the white cattle were to be put at the same cost as the average price of indigenous cattle of around US$500 per head the value of 2 000 cattle would translate into US$1 million which is way beyond the traditional court's monetary jurisdiction.

Mr Mboweni said the case between the two chiefs and his firm was supposed to be referred to the Masvingo provincial magistrate as stipulated under the Customary Law and Local Courts Act.

He added that it was improper for Chiefs Mugabe and Murinye to appoint whoever they wanted to preside over the matter.

The Econet boss said Chief Shumba, according to the Customary Law and Local Courts Act, was limited to deal only with cases that arise in his area of jurisdiction and hence had no right to hear the case between the mobile phone firm and the two chiefs.

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