State authorised Chishawasha evictions

The villagers have approached the High Court to stop the  eviction.

THE Roman Catholic Church says the government authorised its plans to evict Chishawasha villagers.

The villagers have approached the High Court to stop the  eviction.

The Roman Catholic Church plans to evict more than 200 families from their ancestral communal land and turn it into a church-run urban settlement.

In its opposing founding affidavit, the church said the matter was not urgent because the land wrangle had been dragging from as far as 2014.

The Roman Catholic Jesuits claimed ownership of the land measuring 3953,8816 hectares, known as the Remainder of the Chishawasha Farm in Goromonzi district.

The church said it had obtained key documents from the government to implement its urbanisation programme.

Isaac Hawafadzwi Chimbetete filed the opposing affidavit on behalf of the Provincial Superior of the Jesuits province of Zimbabwe.

“The Jesuits simultaneously applied for change of use from agricultural land to urban land, and for the subdivision of the Chishawasha Farm into residential stands of different sizes. A permit was subsequently issued,” Chimbetete said.

“Condition 20 of the permit clearly spelt out that the implementation of the urbanisation project shall be subject to commitments set out in the Chishawasha Development Phasing plan, annexure 2 to the permit as agreed to between the owner, and Chief Chinamhora, and in consonant with government policies, legislation and guidelines on the displacement and relocation of persons or households.”

Renowned priest Father Fidelis Mukonori, the Trustees for the Time Being (Pvt) Ltd, the Chishawasha land project (Pvt) Ltd and Integrated Properties (Pvt) Ltd, are cited as respondents.

Chimbetete said Chief Chinamhora also agreed to have the land turned into an urban settlement.

“His (chief) acceptance was subject to clause 20 of the development permit as well as an undertaking by the Jesuits to preserve sacred and heritage sites.

“The heritage sites have since been handed over to Chief Chinamhora.

“The Jesuits have also, through the developer obtained key regulatory licences from other agencies including the Environmental Management Agency, and the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe.”

Through their lawyer Chrispen Mukome, the villagers accused the Jesuits priest of fraudulently plotting to evict them in connivance with high profile government officials.

The land dispute dates back to the 1890s when the Chishawasha clan members, also known as VaShawasha, were evicted by white settlers.

Their land was given to the Catholic Church as a token of appreciation for its support of the Pioneer Column.

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