Umguza villagers challenge eviction

Source: Umguza villagers challenge eviction – NewsDay Zimbabwe

Someone filling out Eviction Notice Document

SIXTY-EIGHT resettled villagers in Mkwati village, Seabrough, Umguza in Matabeleland North province, have filed an urgent High Court chamber application seeking to bar the government from evicting them from the farm.

Mzingeli Dube and 67 others represented by their lawyer Bruce Masamvu filed their application at the Bulawayo High Court on Monday citing Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development minister Anxious Masuka and the Agriculture and Rural Development Authority (Arda) as respondents in the matter.

The applicants submitted that their matter was extremely urgent and could not wait to be heard in a normal way because they continued to suffer irreparable harm.

“The applicants have a prima facie right to be heard and to be given reasons for any decision which negatively affects them. Balance of convenience favours the granting of the application as there is no alternative relief to the order being sought. The applicants are in occupation of a certain piece of land, namely Mkwati village Seabrough, Umguza. Applicants were settled by the first respondent (minister) 20 years ago and were reassured that the land was not gazetted or leased,” the application read.

“Some time at the beginning of September 2020 the 1st respondent (minister) issued summons with an order for eviction of the applicants claiming the land constitutes gazetted land and that it had been leased to second respondent (Arda) which summons are still pending. The respondents and their agents have unlawfully interfered with the applicants’ peaceful and undisturbed possession by evicting them from the land without lawful authority.”

The settlers noted that Masuka and Arda had started to forcibly remove them from their land and erecting boundary fences along their properties.

In his founding affidavit, Dube noted that the legal proceedings around the matter were still ongoing and nearing pre-trial stage.

“The respondents have begun erecting their fences within our properties and forcing us to relocate to very bad rocky infertile land. I then have been recently evicted and we have encountered the agents of the respondent who have evicted us without a court order,” Dube submitted.

“Punitive costs must be paid by the respondents in the matter,” Dube added.

Arda and the minister are yet to respond to the application.