WASHINGTON DC —
The High Court has given a six-month reprieve to about 900 families at Manzou Farm near Mazowe, who are being evicted to allegedly pave way for the first family, which, according to well-placed sources, wants to turn the farm into a wildlife sanctuary.
The settlers had been given an ultimatum by the police to vacate the farm by Monday and the High Court order came as a welcome relief.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights represented the settlers. The order was given against Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi and Lands Minister Douglas Mombeshora. In the past weeks, armed riot police and officers of the Central Intelligence Organization were allegedly evicting and threatening the settlers.
Some of those evicted were reportedly dumped in Rushinga and others along the Harare-Bindura highway.
The settlers told Studio 7 that their homes were razed to the ground by police who were armed with shotguns, batons and dogs. The settlers said the police officers had denied them the opportunity to harvest their tobacco and maize crop and also refused to disclose who had sent them.
They are now appealing for tents from well-wishers as they have no shelter.
The first family already has vast projects in the Mazowe district, which include an orphanage, a state-of-the-art primary school, Gushungo Dairy Farm, and they recently appropriated a large chunk of Interfresh’s Mazowe Citrus Estates.
Efforts to get a comment from the first lady’s spokesman Lawrence Kamwi or Mashonaland Central Governor Martin Dinha were futile as their phones went unanswered.
Dinha though has previously denied that the evictions are linked to the first family, arguing that the people settled themselves illegally in 2000.
Human rights lawyer Dewa Mavhinga, Human Rights Watch’s senior researcher who has been following the case, said the government must respect the order.