High Court stops council project as Chipinge villagers contest seizure of ancestral lands

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By Staff Reporter 

THE High Court has stopped Chipinge Rural District Council (CRDC) from seizing communal land belonging to Kondo villagers for urbanisation.

High Court Judge, Justice Jester Helena Charewa, interdicted the local authority from expropriating the land, ruling that council had not followed due process.

According to Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), the villagers argued that council did not consult them before undertaking the urbanisation process and their concerns were not considered in violation of the Communal Lands Act.

The villagers then filed an application at Mutare High Court on May 16, 2022 seeking an order to stop the breach of several of their Constitutional rights, including their right to property, administrative justice and information.

“The villagers argued that urbanisation of their land has the effect of reducing the size of the land which they are in occupation of and asked the High Court to halt the process.

“The Kondo villagers stated that they have inhabited Kondo Communal Lands since time immemorial, where they lead a communal way of life and rely on and carry out subsistence farming as a source of livelihood and hence it would be cumbersome to survive in an urban setup as they have no capacity or the means to cope with the urban way of life.

The High court upheld their application interdicting the CRDC from urbanising Kondo Communal Lands.

CRDC and some officials from the department of Physical Planning, had already started surveying and pegging the residential stands in Kondo Communal Lands since the end of last year without informing the villagers.

The villagers were represented by Tariro Tazvitya of ZLHR.