TEN traditional leaders have engaged Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) to challenge their forced and arbitrary eviction from their ancestral land together with their subjects so as to pave way for the expansion of Muzarabani Growth Point in Mashonaland Central province.
Officials from Muzarabani Rural District Council (MRDC) in early September held a meeting with village heads from 10 villages of Gunduza, Mushanemhuka, Chinhiko, Jarawoga, Jembere, Nyapfuko, Kadirire, Makuvaza, Muzarabani and Mutomba, where they told them about the local authority’s plans to evict them and utilise their land for the expansion of Muzarabani Growth Point.
The MRDC officials, who included the local authority’s Chairperson, the Chief Executive Officer and other officers, advised the village heads to relocate together with their subjects and pave way for the expansion of Muzarabani Growth Point without informing them of where they will be relocated to and of any procedural steps it was taking to
have the villagers lawfully moved.
In addition, the MRDC officials did not provide any dates on when the anticipated relocation will take place and neither did it share any information in writing with the village heads but just informed them that their villages were in the catchment area of Muzarabani Growth
Point according to a purported map of the growth point.
This compelled the village heads to engage Paidamoyo Saurombe of ZLHR, who on Friday 7 October 2022, served MRDC with a letter challenging the local authority’s move to arbitrary evict them and their subjects.
In the letter, Saurombe stated that any relocation of villagers must done in terms of the provisions of the law and that there should be adequate notice and suitable reliable relocation areas provided by MRDC.
The human rights lawyer told MRDC that there should also be provisions for compensation to those who will be affected and that there should be adequate provisions to preserve the cultural and historical heritage of the area hence a blanket approach, which disturbs the way
of life of the village heads and the villagers would be undesirable and unlawful.
Saurombe invoked provisions of section 62 of the Constitution and section 7 of the Freedom of Information Act, which promote public access to governance information for purposes of exercising accountability and asked MRDC to provide the village heads with documents and information pertaining to the 1983 Map for Muzarabani Growth Point, the October 1987 Map for Muzarabani Growth Point and the Ground Plan for Muzarabani.
The letter was also delivered to Local Government and Public Works Minister Hon. July Moyo.