By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
1 April 2014
The High Court Monday granted five families who were about to be evicted from Arnold Farm in Mazowe the right to remain at the property.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said in granting the families the right to remain at the farm the High Court was aware of the individuals’ rights not to be evicted from their home or to have their home demolished.
The lawyers group recently approached the High Court seeking an order protecting the right to shelter for the families to remain on the farm for six months, to allow them to harvest their crops. That was after the police demolished the homesteads of some of the families and ordered them to vacate the farm by 24th March.
The five families concerned have been residing at the property since 2000, at the height of the land grab exercise. Until 2006 their occupation was protected in terms of the Rural Land Occupiers Act. Since then they have been engaging the government with a view to have their continued stay at the farm regularized in terms of the Gazetted Lands which replaced the old law.
However, despite government’s promises that these families would be granted offer letters to the farm, such letters have yet to be issued. Instead on March 22nd the police moved in without notice and demolished some of the dwellings and ordered them to vacate.
According to the lawyers group, hundreds of families have been affected by the evictions. It is believed that the first family want to annex the property and turn it into a lavish game sanctuary. Reports said President Mugabe also intends to build a university to be named after him. The Mugabe family has various projects in the Mazowe area, including the Gushungo Dairy, an orphanage and a state of the art primary school. They have also appropriated part of Interfresh’s Mazowe Citrus Estates.