No compensation for evicted villagers: Mahofa

via No compensation for evicted villagers: Mahofa – NewsDay Zimbabwe October 1, 2015

MASVINGO Provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa yesterday said the 22 villagers set to be evicted today from Chomfuli Farm on the outskirts of Mpandawana Growth Point in Gutu will not receive any government compensation for the structures they set up.

By Tatenda Chitagu

Mahofa said the villagers had been erroneously settled on a farm allocated to the Zimbabwe National Army at Independence in 1980. The evictions are set to start today to pave way for a group of soldiers from 4.2 Infantry Battalion, although the villagers have vowed to resist the move.

“We had a meeting with lands officials and the villagers in Gutu last week. The villagers are going to be resettled on other farms in Gutu, which are bigger and which have already been divided for resettlement. Chomfuli was legally given to the army in 1980, but officials from the Ministry of Lands erred by resettling the villagers there in the first place,” she said.

Asked if she was not in contempt of court, given that the villagers had obtained a court interdict to stop the evictions, Mahofa said: “The soldiers got the land through an Act of Parliament in 1980 but the Lands officials did not follow the Act. We even read the Act to the villagers. Legally, that land belongs to the army.”

Asked if government was going to compensate the villagers, comprising of war veterans, who had built permanent structures and settled there since 2000, Mahofa said there was no mention of that.

“We did not speak about compensation (during the meeting),” she said.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) accused Mahofa of being a law unto herself.

“The actions amount to the minister taking the law into her hands, and thumbing her nose at both the country’s Constitution and courts.

“Section 74 of the Constitution, which is part of Section 4 that contains the Bill of Rights, speaks clearly that citizens have the freedom from arbitrary eviction without a valid court order,” ZimRights said in a statement yesterday.

“Such an act of arbitrary eviction against a court order, which is a blatant disregard of the rule of law, cannot be expected from a public official, whose oath of office is to serve the people and the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

“The arbitrary eviction, if effected, will doubtlessly violate the fundamental rights of the families, who include women and children, especially the right to shelter and dignity.

“It is important to note that the families said they were legally settled at the farm, as evidenced by their possession of certificates of occupation for those allocated model A1 farms and offer letters for those with A2 farms,” ZimRights said.