Grace ignores high court order

First lady’s Mazowe evictions intensify

The Standard

27 March 2017

Police yesterday continued with the eviction of villagers from Arnold Farm in Mazowe, allegedly to pave way for first lady Grace Mugabe despite a High Court order barring them from destroying the villagers’ homes.

Police had been demolishing homes since Wednesday but the villagers got a reprieve on Friday after High Court judge Justice Felistas Chatukuta ordered the law enforcement agents to immediately stop demolishing and evicting the families from the farm.

She granted the order by consent after the victims, through their lawyer from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Donsa Nkomo, had filed an urgent chamber application seeking to bar the police and Lands minister, Douglas Mombeshora from carrying out the evictions.

But yesterday, police proceeded to bundle villagers, mostly women and children, into trucks along with their belongings and drove them to Rivers Farm, which is about 40km from their demolished homes along the Mazowe-Mvurwi highway.

When The Standard arrived at Rivers Farm, the stranded families were sheltered under a shed next to old tobacco barns pondering their next move.

“I got here less than an hour ago. I do not have my family here with me and my home was demolished yesterday,” said Levison Mupokosa.

“They brought me here with my property yet the rest of my family was left behind with no blankets and food.”

The over 90 affected families had lived at Arnold Farm for the past 17 years and have had to leave their crops and livestock at the mercy of wild animals. 

“What pains us is that our neighbours who had not planted anything from nearby farms are now going into our fields and stealing our produce,” said 57-year-old Mavis Jangadzi.

“They should have left us to harvest our crops. We are starving because we last had food two days ago and we have no cover from the pounding rains.”

Fungai Chindito said she left behind two cows and seven goats along with an unharvested maize crop planted on three hectares.

“I hear yesterday someone had started stealing from my fields,” said the mother of six.

The villagers are being moved to make way for a game park to be known as Nehanda National Monument.

Villagers said the farm they had been promised was already occupied by other people.

Among the evicted was Talent Chingwaru, a mother of a 10-day-old baby who has no idea of the fate of her offspring.

“This is my third born and I left my husband behind. I cannot even wash nappies because they will not dry up, so I have to continue carrying her because her belly button has not healed yet,” lamented Chingwaru.

She said she was drenched by rain along with her baby while her mother, Violet Chikeya was threatened with unspecified action for complaining about the eviction.

“My name was written down by the police as they were saying I talk too much but I do not care because they have dumped us here where we have been soaked wet by the rains,” Chikeya said.

Nkomo yesterday said he was already working on the case which he said was a sad story for the rule of law in the country.

“The order was given by consent. We served the police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri and Home Affairs minister Ignatious Chombo with the order before the close of business yesterday [Friday],” Nkomo said. 

“They promised that the order would be sent to provinces to stop the eviction and follow due process. Against such a background, it reflects badly on the rule of law in the country.”

Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba could not be reached for comment last night.