By Tatenda Chitagu
The Zimbabwe People’s Land Rights Movement (ZPLRM), a member of the Habitat International Coalition (HIC), has slammed government over planned displacements of thousands of villagers across the country and urged President Emmerson Mnangagwa to walk his talk over the irreversibility of the land reform programme.
HIC is an independent international coalition of organisations and individuals working in the field of human settlements.
It was founded in 1976 as a non-governmental counterpart to the United Nations Commission on Human Settlements, and both emerged from the process of convening the first UN Habitat Conference at Vancouver (Canada) in 1976.
The call comes after 1 000 villagers from Mzaro Farm near Sikato communal area in Masvingo were recently served with eviction orders, while 17 000 Tugwi-Mukosi Dam flood victims are also to be displaced to pave way for an ethanol plant by Billy Rautenbach.
Other displacements are also looming countrywide.
In a statement, the ZPLRM urged the authorities to rescind the pending displacements.
“In light of these current cases, ZPLRM is demanding that the authorities immediately rescind eviction orders and cease processes of evictions and land rights violations, enact a post-land reform policy that guarantees security of tenure and ensure the irreversibility of the land reform programme.
“President Emmerson Mnangagwa must be true to his words, whereby he emphasised the irreversibility of the land reform (programme) and ensured that government would work on (a) policy that promotes and protects the beneficiaries of the land reform and also put an end to the continued violations of section 74 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
“The Land Commission must apply the human rights approach, applying Zimbabwe’s corresponding State obligations, in adjudicating land disputes, while all State institutions should adhere to the dictates of the Constitution and value human rights, in particular adequate housing, continuous improvement of living conditions and land rights of the poor and vulnerable,” ZPLRM said.
“All State institutions must seek accountability and liability of those (officials and others) engaged in corrupt land deals, while all relevant organs of the State to ensure the conditions for legal evictions (General Comment No 7) are met before initiating any eviction process. They should apply the UN Basic Guidelines and Principles for Development-based Evictions and Displacements at all stages of displacement processes.
“The relevant organs of the State should conduct an impact assessment in advance of any evictions or resettlement, as well as currently displaced persons, in order to ensure reparations for those affected. Each province should conduct and publish a thorough and transparent land audit in areas of land disputes, including areas where the State and its organs seek the removal of inhabitants under any pretext.”