High court hears Mazowe villagers’ eviction challenge

HIGH Court Judge Justice Felistus Chatukuta will on Friday 24 March 2017 hear an urgent chamber application filed by some Mazowe villagers seeking an order to interdict two ministries and Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri from evicting them from Anold Farm, which they have occupied for the past 17 years.

Heavily armed ZRP officers together with officials from the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement on Wednesday 22 March 2017 began demolishing the villagers’ homesteads at Anold Farm in Mazowe in Mashonaland Central province without a court order and without complying with an earlier order issued by the High Court on 14 January 2015 barring them from demolishing homes or evicting them.

In an urgent chamber application filed on Thursday 23 March 2017 by Moses Nkomo of Donsa-Nkomo&Mutangi Legal Practice, a member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the villagers argued that they will suffer irreparable harm if the High Court does not intervene to save them as they have been rendered homeless and their children’s education has been jeopardised by the respondents’ unlawful actions.

The villagers, who argued that they have been in undisturbed and peaceful possession of their pieces of land and property also argued that their crops are at risk of being destroyed by animals or vandalised while their belongings and household properties which are in the open right now are at risk of suffering irreparable damage.

The applicants contended that their health is at risk since their shelter has been destroyed and they have nowhere to go and if they lose their crops they will starve to death and their children will not be able to go to school because they rely on crops for food and income.

The villagers are also apprehensive that since their children are in school, their eviction will literally destroy their education as some of them are due to sit for their Grade Seven examinations later this year.

The villagers charged that they had regarded Anold Farm as their home since they were authorised to settle at the farm by the government in 2000 at the height of the government-backed fast track land reform programme.

The conduct of the ZRP officers and the officials from the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement, the villagers argued, contravenes several of their fundamental rights including freedom from arbitrary eviction as provided in Section 74 of the Constitution, the right to privacy guaranteed under Section 57 of the Constitution, the right to administrative justice as provided under Section 68 and the right to property as provided in Section 71 of the Constitution.

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