Muzarabani villagers face eviction to pave way for development; rights lawyers help fight the removals

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By Mary Taruvinga I Senior Reporter

HUNDREDS of villagers are facing arbitrary eviction from their ancestral land to pave way for expansion of Muzarabani Growth Point situated in Mashonaland Central province.

The villagers were recently notified of the move when officials from Muzarabani Rural District Council (MRDC) held a meeting with village heads and ordered relocation.

They were, however, not given an alternative land to move to.

Affected areas include Gunduza, Mushanemhuka, Chinhiko, Jarawoga, Jembere, Nyapfuko, Kadirire, Makuvaza, Muzarabani and Mutomba.

In a bid to stop the imminent eviction, traditional leaders from 10 villages have engaged the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) on behalf of their dependents.

Their lawyer, Paidamoyo Saurombe has since served MRDC with a letter challenging its arbitrary eviction.

The villagers are worried because MRDC officials did not provide any dates on when the anticipated relocation will take place, neither did it share any information in writing with the village heads but merely informed them that their villages were in the catchment area of Muzarabani Growth Point according to a purported map of the business centre.

“Any relocation of villagers must be done in terms of the provisions of the law and that there should be adequate notice and suitable reliable relocation areas provided by MRDC,” said Saurombe.

The lawyer also 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.

“In that vein, in terms of section 62 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, and with section 7 of the Freedom of Information Act (Chapter 10:33), which promotes public access to governance  information for the purposes of exercising accountability, we request to be provided with the following documents and information, the 1983 map for Muzarabani Growth Point, the October 1987 map for Muzarabani Growth Point and the ground plan for Muzarabani Growth Point,” wrote Saurombe.

The letter was also delivered to Local Government and Public Works Minister, July Moyo.