SW Radio Africa (London)

28 March 2014

Zimbabwe: Ruling On Manzou Farm Evictions Deferred to Monday

The High Court has reserved to Monday its ruling on the fate of the Mazoe villagers who were evicted from Manzou Farm by ZANU PF last week.

Armed police destroyed homes and forced the villagers off the farm, allegedly to make way for President Robert Mugabe's family, who want it for a game park.

The more than 900 families were forced to abandon their maize and tobacco crops and the villagers say they risk starvation after losing the crop which was meant to sustain them until the next season.

On Thursday the villagers filed an urgent High Court petition through their lawyers, asking that the evictions be halted to give them time to harvest their crops.

The villagers also want the government to allocate them alternative resettlement land before kicking them off Manzou, since most of them have nowhere else to go.

"We approached the courts to basically stop whoever is evicting them to stop doing so now until after the harvesting season is over," lawyer Tonderai Bhatasara told the NewsDay newspaper Thursday.

Bhatasara said the villagers are not resisting eviction but want to be properly resettled elsewhere. He said the Constitution states that "no person may be evicted from their home or have their home demolished without an order of the court made after considering all the relevant circumstances."

Lawyer Gift Mtisi who is also representing the villagers, told SW Radio Africa that Justice Susan Mavhangira heard the matter Friday after the teams representing the villagers and the State failed to reach an agreement.

"When we left the judge's chambers Thursday it seemed that parties may reach an amicable solution but this did not happen and we then decided to stand by our Thursday submissions," Mtisi said.

The First family has a keen interest in the Mazowe area where they have been invading land and displacing people as they expand their property portfolio.

About six months ago 50 other families of small-scale miners were kicked off a gold-rich portion of Manzou farm by Mugabe's wife Grace, who was interested in taking over the mining claims.

But Mash Central Provincial Affairs Minister Martin Dinha, who has tried to evict the villagers, has dismissed claims that the Mugabes are behind the evictions and last week said the villagers had settled themselves on the land illegally.

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