BY KENNETH NYANGANI
HUMAN rights lawyers have intervened to stop the eviction of 390 Mutasa villagers in Manicaland province, after government last week ordered them to vacate Chidazembe Farm.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) member, Peggy Tavagadza said among the 390 villagers, 209 were juveniles.
In a letter dated March 29 and directed to villagers, the Lands ministry gave the settlers a seven-day notice to vacate the land, saying they were illegal settlers.
“You are hereby given seven days’ notice to vacate Chidazembe Farm in Mutasa district in Manicaland province. You are violating section 3 of Gazetted Land Act Chapter 20:28, Gazetted Land Act, in that you are occupying the said property without lawful authority,” the letter read.
“You are hereby given an eviction notice to vacate the property, failure to vacate before this date will result in your arrest and prosecution.”
However, ZLHR yesterday wrote to the Lands ministry, saying their clients do not have alternative accommodation.
“We write at the instance of our clients, a total of 390 people (90 female adults, 91 male adults and 209 juveniles), whose names are annexed to this letter, kindly note our legal interest,” Tavagadza said.
“That on March 29, 2019, officials from your ministry served our clients with a notice of eviction that our clients were duly allocated these pieces of land by the traditional leadership in terms of the Traditional Leaders Act.”
She said some of the villagers have been in occupation of the land for a period in excess of 10 years and as such have built their livelihood there.
“They have built houses and they have minor children who cannot soldier the harsh winter. The State despite demand of request for offer letters has either failed or neglected to provide them with security of tenure,” the ZLHR member said.
“That the impending eviction which falls in the winter fails to appreciate the condition of minor children and women who claim occupation through the head of the household who was served with the eviction notice.
“That our clients have nowhere to go, they do not have an alternative accommodation as such the move by the ministry would reduce them to vagrants which we submit is against the spirit of the new Constitution.”