The recent decision by the government of Zimbabwe to evict over 12000 people from their ancestral lands to pave way for a Zanu PF aligned farmer has not only exposed the crudeness of the government but also its failure to adhere to the rule of law.
A few days ago the people of Chilonga were taken by surprise when they were told that they would be evicted from their ancestral home to pave way for a stock feed project by Dendairy.
Human rights organizations have since approached the court to challenge the statutory instrument implied by the Local Government minister July Moyo, and the Masvingo magistrate have temporarily blocked the eviction spending finalization.
The government gazetted 6 000 hectares of land in the area, which paved the way for the evictions however, in his ruling the Masvingo magistrate stated that the government should show cause why it rushed on evicting the ‘communal farmers affected by Statutory Instrument 50 of 2021 without first securing an order of the court’.
Legal experts have pointed out that the mooted evictions area violation of the constitution, which in Section 74 stipulates that “no person may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished, without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances”.
On the other, the government has continued to hide behind the finger claiming the Dendairy project was meant to benefit the Chilonga community, but failed to justify how it was going to benefit the ordinary villagers. This alone reflects how insincere, the government has become as it should have consulted the affected villagers to get their first hand concerns.
The reaction to the gazetting of Statutory Instrument 50 of2021 has clearly demonstrated that the affected villagers are not convinced that the project will benefit their community. Going down the memory lane, one may realize that this has become a government trend when parceling stands for its own enrichment.
In 2014, thousands of Masvingo villagers were moved from their ancestral lands to make way for the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam and they were dumped in Chingwizi. Since then the government is yet to provide the new settlements with requisite infrastructure such as schools, clinics and clean water.
In a similar fashion, thousands of villagers in Manicaland were forcibly relocated to make way for diamond mines. The diamond companies were not bothered to ensure that the resettlement areas had proper infrastructure and to this day some villagers’ are living in squalor.
The recent move by the government has dealt an uppercut blow to rule of law and clearly reflected its insincerity in the welfare of Zimbabwean people.
Edith Chibhamu is a Dubai based Zimbabwean business woman, human rights activist and aspiring president for Zimbabwe Democratic and Economic Freedom Party (ZDEFP)