Newly-resettled farmer Kingstone Dutiro has reportedly evicted 85 farm workers from Great B farm in Mazowe, but the workers are challenging the government gazetted Lands Act.
The workers are arguing the Act does not represent the constitutional rights of farm workers.
The 85 are under prosecution for allegedly occupying a farm compound belonging to Dutiro who acquired it under the Land Reform Programme.
They are being charged with contravening Section 3(2)(a) as read with Section 3(3) of the Gazetted Land (Consequential Provisions) Act, [Chapter 20:28] for allegedly occupying gazetted land without lawful authority.
State prosecutors claim the workers have been unlawfully using and occupying the compound at the farm, about 10km outside Harare.
According to the State, the farm workers were supposed to have moved out of the farm on, or before February 5 2007.
Dutiro assumed ownership of the farm after its former owner Archie Blackie was evicted.
However, the farm workers, represented by Advocate Lewis Uriri and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights lawyer Kenny Masiye, challenged the Land Act arguing the workers had the right to remain on the farm.
The workers deny charges of illegal occupation and argue some of them were born at the farm and have lived there since.
Others further alleged Dutiro owes them money in unpaid wages for labour provided.
In an oral application before Harare Magistrate Lazarus Murendo, Uriri requested that the matter be referred to the Supreme Court arguing the State must not interfere in the case between the workers and the farmer, and that their prosecution was improper.
Uriri, citing Section 18 (IA) of the constitution, said the Attorney General’s Office was violating the constitutional rights of the workers as the State was interfering with a contract between the workers and the farmer.
He also justified why the case should be referred to the Supreme Court, adding the workers had the right to life and livelihood, a right they were now being denied.
The matter was moved to February 3.