THE 200 villagers currently locked in a bitter wrangle with government over their occupation of Manzou Estate in Mazowe have filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court seeking an order compelling the State to remove hordes of zebras that were recently allegedly driven into the farm.
In the application filed by the villagers’ lawyers Tonderai Bhatasara and Gift Mtisi last Friday, the families said government should not give wild animals preference over human beings.
The villagers recently won an interim interdict stopping their eviction after government attempted to kick them out, describing them as illegal settlers.
In the application, the villagers cited Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi, Lands minister Douglas Mombeshora, Environment minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and Trustees of the Board of the National Museums and Monuments as respondents.
Watch villager Nancy Kasirori recount her encounter with a zebra on the farm, below:
“Assuming that the area is to be used as a national park, there is need for such declaration with specific boundaries,” one of the affected villagers, Aspinas Makufa, said in his affidavit.
“And before bringing animals, respondents would have properly settled us somewhere else or if we are to stay there, properly fenced off the area to be occupied by the animals. This has not been done. Surely animals which have no rights in the Constitution cannot take precedence over us,” Makufa said.
Makufa added that despite the interdict order, the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority had offloaded over 100 zebras into the property to graze on villagers’ crops and eventually force them to leave in frustration.
“When we talked to the officials of fourth respondent (Parks and Wildlife Management Authority), they indicated that they were about to bring elephants, lions, leopards and rhinos onto Arnolds Farm,” Makufa said.
“It is clear that the conduct of the third (Environment minister Saviour Kasukuwere) and fourth respondents of bringing in wild animals onto our residential area is meant to cause our eviction. This is a ploy to circumvent existing court orders against our eviction.”
The matter is yet to be set down for hearing.
Meanwhile, High Court judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu is on Friday this week expected to hear the villagers’ other application where they are seeking the arrest of Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and Mohadi for contempt of court.