High Court reserve judgment on Matobo villagers, Arda-Trek land dispute

BULAWAYO High Court judge, Justice Martin Makonese, last Thursday indeifinitely reserved judgment in a case where 55 Matobo villagers are suing the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) and Trek Petroleum (Private) Limited for invading their ancestral land and annexing it for expansion of their joint irrigation project.

Source: High Court reserve judgment on Matobo villagers, Arda-Trek land dispute – NewsDay Zimbabwe October 3, 2016


Robert Mafu and 54 others, through their lawyer, Kholwani Ngwenya, had filed an application at the Bulawayo High Court on September 21 seeking to bar Arda and Trek from demolishing their homesteads.

In their application, the villagers claimed that Arda and Trek forcibly invaded their homesteads, farming and grazing land without a court order.

“The first and second respondents … have proceeded to demolish and raze down some of the applicants’ homesteads, farming and grazing land without a court order or writ of execution authorising such conduct and have since threatened to demolish all the applicants’ homestead structures, farming and grazing land,” the application read.

“…there is a risk that if the matter is dealt with as an ordinary application … the hearing of the matter will be an academic exercise and applicants would have suffered irreparable loss and prejudice as … respondents are demolishing their property and acquiring the land.”

The villagers said the two companies, which are in a joint farming venture, have no legal basis to evict them from their land and demolish their structures without a court order.

“Respondents are … in breach of the supreme law of the land. This… court does not only accept to appear before it those … with dripping of the actual infringement of rights…”

In his founding affidavit, Mafu said: “I am 84 years old and I reside at Zwehamba village having resided at the place for 69 years. I have my own homestead, farming and sharing grazing land with other members of the community some of them applicants in this matter.”

He said the land currently occupied by Arda was offered to Telcor around 1975 and Telcor changed its name to Arda after independence. He said they co-existed with Arda without any problem until now when the latter decided to invade their homes following its partnership with Trek Petroleum.

Arda and Trek Petroleum challenged the application, accusing the villagers of encroaching into Arda’s land. Arda claimed it acquired the disputed land during the Rhodesian era when it was operating as Telcor.