In a landmark ruling that has brought relief to hundreds of families on the brink of displacement, High Court Judge Justice Rogers Manyangadze has put a stop to the eviction of 800 households from Norton in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland West province. The ruling was made on 17 January 2024, following an urgent application by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), who represented the affected families.
Imminent Eviction Halted
On 11 January 2024, officials from the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, the District Administrator for Chegutu, along with the police and Environmental Management Agency officials had issued an eviction order. The families were given a mere three days to vacate Plot Number 46 at Skea Farm. The directive was allegedly based on a message from President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
A Constitutional Rights Battle
The families, once employed by the farm’s previous owner, Martin Skea, found themselves facing the daunting prospect of homelessness. They turned to the ZLHR, which challenged the eviction on constitutional grounds. The argument held that the eviction was unlawful as the families had not been served with a court order and had been dutifully paying their dues.
A Respite for Norton Families
In his ruling, Justice Manyangadze stated that the eviction could not proceed without an official court order. This has, for the moment, staved off the threat of homelessness for the 800 families residing at Skea Farm. The case highlights the pressing issue of housing rights and the precarious situation that many in Zimbabwe find themselves in, due to government directives and the volatile political climate.-BNN