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Govt capitulates on Mazowe evictions

The government has capitulated and granted offer letters to five Mazowe villagers who recently resorted to legal action seeking the arrest and imprisonment of Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi and Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri for disobeying a lawful court order.

Villagers have the homes burnt down at Manzou Farm to make way for Grace Mugabe's Wildlife Park
Villagers have the homes burnt down at Manzou Farm to make way for Grace Mugabe’s Wildlife Park

Five Mazowe families whose houses were demolished by armed police officers who stormed Anold Farm in Mazowe on Wednesday 07 January 2015 in a ruthless eviction that saw the villagers’ personal possessions being burnt recently filed a court application for contempt of court against Mohadi, Chihuri and Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Douglas Mombeshora.

The villagers who include Aspinas Makufa, Daaisi Musekiwa, George Musa, Costa Chirimba, and Gift Chikowore charged that the government officials were unquestionably guilty of contempt of court after intentionally disobeying a court order by demolishing their homes and attempting to evict them from Anold Farm in Mazowe from which they have been conducting farming operations for more than a decade.

On Friday 30 January 2015, the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement issued Makufa, Musekiwa, Musa, Chirimba, and Chikowore with offer letters entitling them to occupy Nyandirwi farm, where each farmer’s plot measures four hectares in the same prime fertile farming district of Mazowe.

In the application filed in the High Court on Friday 09 January 2015 by their lawyers Tonderai Bhatasara of Mupanga Bhatasara Attorneys and Gift Mtisi of Musendekwa Mtisi Legal Practitioners, who are all members of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the lawyers petitioned the High Court to order Mohadi, Chihuri and Mombeshora to stop government officials, agents, police officers or anyone acting on their instructions from demolishing and evicting the villagers from Anold Farm.

The lawyers said should Mohadi, Chihuri and Mombeshora fail to stop government agents from ending the harassment of the villagers, the Sheriff of Zimbabwe must procure several Zimbabwe Republic Police officers to arrest the Home Affairs Minister, the ZRP boss and the Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister and imprison them at Harare Central Prison until such a time they purge their contempt.

According to the Mazowe families, Mohadi, Chihuri and Mombeshora’s conduct is reprehensible and a risk to the administration of justice while the deliberate disobedience of a court order by public officials undermines the authority and integrity of the judiciary.

The villagers said they are now exposed to the vagaries of weather conditions with their crops and source of livelihood being razed to the ground at a time when their children are scheduled to start attending school lessons next week.

The applicants argued that since the granting of the court order in August 2014 interdicting and stopping respondents from demolishing homes and evicting them, police officers ceased to destroy their property. But the law enforcement agents recently resumed the house demolitions inspite of a court order granted by High Court Judge Justice Charles Hungwe in August 2014 interdicting the respondents from interfering with the Mazowe villagers’ farming activities on Anold Farm until they have been legally relocated to other lands with valid offer letters.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights