Arnold Farm residents in Mazowe have approached the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) to intervene to force the police to stop the continued demolition of their homes reportedly to pave way for the expansion of First Lady Grace Mugabe’s business empire.
BY TAPIWA ZIVIRA
In a letter to Sadc, which was delivered yesterday through the South African embassy in Harare, the residents urged the regional bloc to compel the Zimbabwean government to respect the rule of law and stop the evictions in line with a High Court order.
“We, as citizens of Zimbabwe, are seeking help for our responsible authorities to respect the rule of law, not that the law should be exercised on the poor only while protecting the upper class,” the letter, signed by Arnold Farm Residents’ Association chairperson Innocent Dube, and addressed to the Sadc deputy chair country, South Africa, read.
“Our families are starving because of the police brutality because they (the police) do not (sic) comply with what the highest court in the land would have judged. We need food assistance as our crops have not been cultivated due to police harassment.”
One of the residents told NewsDay that officials at the South African embassy had promised to take the issue to Swaziland, which is current the chair of the regional bloc.
In addition to lobbying Sadc, the villagers – who have been under threat of eviction since 2015 when Grace made her first moves to occupy the farm – on Tuesday approached the court seeking contempt of court charges against three top government officials.
The villagers want Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo, Commissioner-General of Police Augustine Chihuri and Lands and Rural Resettlement minister Douglas Mombeshora charged with contempt of court after authorities disregarded a court order stopping the evictions.
The urgent chamber application was filed last Sunday after the police, despite the existence of the court order, continued with the demolitions, bundled the residents into trucks and dumped them in a bushy area along the Mvurwi road.
In their application, the residents said the conduct of the law enforcement agents in the unfolding events was “a sad commentary to the status of the rule of law in Zimbabwe”.