THE High Court has provisionally barred Government from evicting various families occupying Arnold Farm (Manzou Farm) in Mazowe pending determination of the land dispute.Justice Erica Ndewere yesterday ruled in favour of six settlers who claimed they were allocated the land by Government under the land reform programme, but were now facing eviction to allow wildlife activities to be conducted.
Leonard Mukoore, Samson Jekera, Chenjerai Murambisa, Livingstone Musanhi, Tapiwa Dhaisi and Phanuel Chingoriwo and all those who occupy 10 Arnold Farm through them, were allowed to stay at the disputed farm in Mashonaland Central in the interim.
Justice Ndewere’s order reads: “Pending determination of this matter, the applicants are granted the following interim relief:
“Pending the procurement of a court order or alternative resettlement land by the respondents, the first, second and third respondents (Minister of Home Affairs (Cde Kembo Mohadi), Commissioner General of Police (Augustine Chihuri) and Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement (Dr Douglas Mombeshora) and any other persons acting through them be and is hereby interdicted from demolishing the applicants’ homes/property or evicting the applicants from Arnold Farm Number 10 Mazowe.”
Mr Tonderai Bhatasara represented the settlers, while Mr Tymon Tabana of the Attorney General’s Office appeared for Government officials.
The settlers argued that they had been on the land as far back as 2000 after being authorised by Government under the land reform programme and they now regarded the farm as their home.
They alleged that police forcibly evicted them from the farm and destroyed their homes without any court order. Dr Mombeshora deposed an affidavit denying ever authorising the six to occupy the farm.
He said the farm had always been reserved for wildlife activities and not for rural resettlement.
“Applicants are put to the strict proof of the averments that they were authorised to occupy the farm in issue through a permit, offer letter or lease as provided for by the law,” said Dr Mombeshora.
“Government has as far back as year 2000 always taken the position against the settlement of persons on the said farm for purposes of agricultural resettlement because the farm has always been reserved as a wildlife area and was subsequently declared a national heritage under the National Museums and Monuments Act.
“As we speak, the farm falls under the administration of the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority not the 3rd respondent (Ministry of Lands).”
Comm-Gen Chihuri said his officers were simply acting on an earlier court order issued by Justice Charles Hungwe directing the relocation of the applicants to Lazy Farm in Mvurwi.
He said the applicants kept on coming back to Arnold Farm in violation of the court order, hence the police intervention.