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Zimbabwe must respect eviction order: Amnesty

Global rights watchdog Amnesty International has called on Zimbabwean authorities to respect a court order halting evictions from a farm linked to first lady Grace Mugabe, saying there was a “culture of impunity” in the southern African country.

President Mugabe and wife Grace at the official opening of the Amai Grace Mugabe Junior School in Mazowe
President Mugabe and wife Grace at the official opening of the Amai Grace Mugabe Junior School in Mazowe

“The Zimbabwean authorities continue to disregard the provisions of the new constitution resulting in serious violations of human rights,” said Simeon Mawanza, Amnesty’s researcher for the southern African region.

“The High Court of Zimbabwe has reaffirmed that no one can just wake up and decide to evict people from their place of residence without following the law.”

Amnesty’s statement was released on Tuesday, just before news broke that Zimbabwe’s wildlife authorities were preparing to secure Manzou Estate – the farm at the centre of the controversy in Mazowe district – so dangerous game could be moved on.

That was despite a ruling from the High Court a day earlier ordering police tosuspend evictions of villagers trying to hang onto their homes and crops at Manzou.

Last week a number of families had their homes burnt and were told to move off the farm.

The exact number of those affected remain unclear. Authorities state 48 families were resisting eviction, but human rights lawyers said 150 were being chased away.

Grace Mugabe, 49, reportedly told a rally last year that she planned to take over a conservancy near her orphanage in Mazowe. But the ruling Zanu-PF said the president’s wife had nothing to do with the evictions.

“Amai (mother) Mugabe shows entrepreneurial and philanthropic sides that put to shame those who should have done better given their stature and status in society,” the pro-Mugabe Herald newspaper said on Wednesday in an opinion editorial.

Amnesty’s Mawanza said: “It is not enough to have a beautifully crafted declaration of rights without a corresponding commitment to protecting these rights.

“It is disturbing and regrettable that a culture of impunity is being allowed to continue.” Sapa