BY TAPFUMANEI MUCHABAIWA
CHILONGA villagers in Chiredzi have approached the Constitution Court (ConCourt) to stop their imminent eviction from their ancestral land to pave way for an irrigation project.
In January, High Court judge Justice Joseph Mafusire dismissed their application challenging their pending eviction.
In 2021, government passed Statutory Instrument (SI) 50 to set aside an estimated 12 940 hectares of Chilonga communal land for a lucerne project by Dendairy.
The SI directed that any person residing on this communal land would have to leave the area by the date of the publication of the notice.
This left the villagers with no option, but to seek legal recourse.
Their lawyer, Tendai Biti yesterday confirmed that they had filed an application at the ConCourt to stay the evictions, saying their appeal had been set for June 22.
“They have brought an application challenging the unlawful expropriation of their land by the State. They argue that section 4 of the Communal Lands Act which vests communal land in the President is a racist colonial construction based on the legal fiction that aboriginal natives could not own land,” Biti said.
“They argue that 43 years after independence the notion that a black person can’t own his ancestral land is an assault on her dignity and clearly unconstitutional.
“They argue that the taking away of their land by the State is a breach of their property and cultural rights. They contend that their application is completing unfinished business of the liberation struggle by giving land back to the native.”
Addressing journalists in Harare, one of the Chilonga village heads, Livison Chikutu said they will fight tooth and nail to ensure they are never displaced.
“We have had enough threats from the government, but we will not bow down to that. We will not fold our hands to let them grab our land. Why would the government want to push and throw us out of our land in this crooked manner?” Chikutu said.
The villagers have argued that their land was not artificially created and carved out by the Land Apportionment Act and that they have owned it in their own right as indigenous people.
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