Heal Zimbabwe condemns the move by Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister, Shuvai Mahofa to order soldiers to evict 22 villagers settled at Chomfuli Farm near Mpandawana Growth point in Gutu. Chomfuli farm is near 4.2 Infantry Battalion, a base camp for soldiers. The villagers are being accused of having been resettled within the operating area of the base camp.
According to a Heal Zimbabwe human rights monitor in the area, 17 of these villagers have already been evicted by the soldiers and they have since moved their livestock from the farm.
The evictions come at a time when the villagers had been granted a court order barring the soldiers from evicting them from the farm. The move by Minister Mahofa to use soldiers to displace innocent villagers who have been granted a court order is not only a violation of people’s human and fundamental rights, but a disregard of the supremacy of the constitution.
In June this year, the soldiers allegedly burnt down the villagers’ homesteads to drive them away from the farm. Heal Zimbabwe is gravely appalled by the lack of respect of the court ruling. The courts are mechanisms that uphold human rights and entrench democratic practices, therefore, they must be respected. In addition, use of brutal force, violence and destruction of property is uncalled for especially when the military is supposed to protect and respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons. Section 211 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe states that, “…the Defence Forces must respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons and be non-partisan and be subordinate to the civilian authority…” While the Minister considers the evictions to be legitimate, the soldiers and the Government must find peaceful and humane methods of resettling the landless villagers especially now as we approach the rainy season.
Heal Zimbabwe commends the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights for offering legal representation to these villagers in pursuit of the realisation of their fundamental human rights which are enshrined in the constitution.