THE Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) yesterday criticised the State for deliberately defying court orders and disregarding citizens’ rights as enshrined in the new Constitution.
The lawyers cited the recent inhuman evictions at Manzou Farm in Mashonaland Central Province, where over 200 villagers were kicked out while their homes were set ablaze to pave way for First Lady Grace Mugabe’s private wildlife sanctuary.
ZLHR programme manager in charge of international litigation, advocacy and public litigation Dzimbabwe Chimbga said it was worrying that the year had begun with many cases of the State violating citizens’ rights.
“The ZLHR has since the beginning of the year been carefully scrutinising the telling disenfranchisement of citizens’ fundamental rights in the country,” Chimbga said.
“The government has dismally failed to follow the dictates of the law in executing evictions and demolition of property given the fact that Zimbabwe entered a new constitutional dispensation which provides for the protection of basic human rights of the people,” he said.
On the Mazowe evictions, Chimbga said: “The evictions and demolitions violate several of the key protective provisions such as the right to shelter and freedom from arbitrary eviction as enshrined in Section 28 and Section 74 of the Constitution among other rights.”
The lawyers said they were “deeply concerned by the flagrant defiance of lawful court orders and the unappeasable appetite by State authorities and law enforcement agents in particular to violate and trample on citizens’ rights as demonstrated in Mazowe”.
Chimbga said it was not proper for government to prioritise the welfare of wildlife at the expense of human beings.
“”The Zimbabwe Republic Police must stop preying on citizens’ rights and involve themselves in the murky activities of shadowy individuals and institutions dressed up as wildlife enthusiasts, sanctuaries and heritages,” he said.
Tonderai Bhatasara, a member of ZLHR, on Monday won a court battle to stop the evictions at Manzou Farm. The affected farmers are still to be resettled or assisted to build new homes nearly a week after their homes were razed down.