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Another Manzou blow for Grace

By Tendai Kamhungira

HARARE – Lawyers representing the beleaguered Manzou Farm villagers, whom the government wants to evict to make way for First Lady Grace Mugabe’s planned wildlife sanctuary, have forced authorities to undertake to ensure that there is no conflict between Grace’s animals and the poor families.

President Mugabe and wife Grace
President Mugabe and wife Grace

High Court judge November Mtshiya granted a consent order between the villagers and the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.

The families, who were represented by Gift Mtisi, filed an urgent chamber application last Friday, seeking to bar the government from bringing animals to the farm, after about 100 zebras had been brought onto the farm.

The residents who led the court action are Aspinas Makufa, Costa Chirimba, Leonard Mukoore and the Arnolds (Manzou) Farm Residents Association.

In their application they cited Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi, Lands minister Douglas Mombeshora, Environment minister Saviour Kasukuwere, the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and trustees of the Board of the National Museums and Monuments as respondents.

“It is agreed that 4th respondent (Parks and Wildlife Management Authority) will in terms of the Wildlife Management Act Chapter 20:14 take steps to ensure that there is no conflict/interruption between the zebras and persons occupying Arnolds Farm,” reads the consent order between Mtisi and Parks and Wildlife Management Authority’s lawyers Farai Mutamangira and Itai Ndudzo.

The residents have also in the past filed successful applications barring police from evicting them from the farm — in a controversial move aimed at paving way for Grace’s private wildlife sanctuary.

In an affidavit, Makufa said despite the court orders, the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority brought 100 zebras. He said the residents’ children were now afraid of going to school because of the animals, adding that the animals were also destroying their crops.

“When we talked to the officials of 4th respondent (Parks and Wildlife Management Authority), they indicated that they are about to bring elephants, lions, leopards and rhinos onto Arnolds Farm,” Makufa said.

“It is clear that the conduct of the 3rd (Environment minister Saviour Kasukuwere) and 4th respondents of bringing in wild animals onto our residential area is meant to cause our eviction. This is a ploy to circumvent existing court orders against our eviction,” the affidavit continued.

He said it was clear that they could not stay with wild animals, adding that the respondents’ actions were “reprehensible”.

Makufa also said the respondents’ actions were contemptuous.

“The specification of the area as a protected cultural landscape was done when we were settled at Arnolds Farm. It has no effect of divesting us of occupiers’ rights. Otherwise such declaration is unconstitutional.

“Assuming that the area is to be used as a national park, there is need for such declaration with specific boundaries. And before bringing animals, respondents would have properly settled us somewhere else or if we are to stay there, properly fenced off the area to be occupied by the animals.

“This has not been done. Surely animals, which have no rights in the Constitution, cannot take precedence over us,” Makufa said.

Meanwhile, High Court Judge Chinembiri Bhunu will today, hear the residents’ application, in which they filed for contempt of court against commissioner-general of police Augustine Chihuri and Mohadi. Daily News