THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has detailed harrowing tales of State brutality against defenceless villagers in the forced evictions of more than 100 families from a conservancy eyed by First Lady Grace Mugabe in the rich Mazowe Valley.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
President Robert Mugabe’s wife has been “invited” by the government to take over Manzou Farm, which is to be turned into Makwiramiti Game Reserve, as part of the expansion of her business empire that includes Gushungo Dairies, a children’s home and parts of Mazowe Citrus Estates, as well as reports that she also wants Mazowe Dam to herself.
A report by the Elasto Mugwadi-chaired ZHRC urged the police, in particular, to respect the courts and protect all citizens, amid revelations law enforcement agents in marked trucks used brute force to demolish over 100 homes.
“The lorries had ropes which were tied to houses which were then dragged, thereby ensuring irreparable destruction. It is reported that over 100 homes, including households with the sick and the elderly and children, were demolished and other people left sleeping outside in the rubble without adequate shelter in the cold and wetness of the rainy season,” Mugwadi’s report stated.
“This exposed women, children, the sick and the elderly to the unfavourable weather conditions and hindered children from accessing school, thus, violating their right to education. Economic social and cultural rights are intertwined, thus, an affront to the right to shelter negatively impacts on the right to life.”
Police are accused of ignoring court orders to stop the arbitrary evictions.
“The ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police) must at all times uphold the functions stated in section 219(i)(c) to (e) in that as the police service, they are responsible for protecting and securing lives and property of the people, maintaining law and order and must uphold the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” the report added.
“In enforcing the law without fear or favour, the ZRP must desist from using disproportionate force which leads to further human rights violations through the assault and injury of citizens. The ZRP should also uphold the rule of law by respecting judiciary decisions and court orders. The excessive force used on them was not necessary.”
ZHRC urged the government to respect the rights of displaced persons as enshrined in Article 12 of the Kampala Convention, also known as the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, relating to “fair compensation”.
Mugabe’s government, normally averse to humanitarian and aid agency help, was also urged to allow assistance for the victims.
Mugwadi’s commission joined growing voices from the opposition and critics of Mugabe’s regime for a more secure land tenure system in the aftermath of the chaotic and often violent agrarian reform programme.
“Lack of security of tenure is the very reason why these families are currently suffering and vulnerable to human rights violations and their fears of future evictions (from the new areas) are, therefore, valid.
“As a result of these fears, some of those who had been resettled returned back to occupy the farm or resisted relocation altogether. Other concerns of the affected families that require government attention include accessibility to a reliable road network and other social amenities like schools, clinics and service facilities,” the reports stated, adding government needed to invest in educating the farmers in models that suit their new environment.