News The African Way

President Robert Mugabe Renders More Zimbaweans Homeless

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By Winifred Bulus

Zimbabwean Human Rights watch has claimed that President Robert Mugabe and his family have subjected local farmers to dehumanisation and police brutality.

The farmers are said to be in Mazowe, (a southern district in Zimbabwe).

This was as a result of a land conflict that came about from Mugabe’s interest in Arnolds Farm in Mazowe, Mashanaland central Province, Zimbabwe as confirmed by a court filing.

The security forces resolved to beating, harassing and evicting 200 hundred families from the farm.

Witnesses confessed that such acts of violence have happened in the past and recalled the last which was in March when about 100 anti-riot police evicted some farmers from the same land.

The police claimed to be acting under instructions from the first lady, Lady Grace Mugabe who had instructed them to beat occupants who resisted.

Zimbabwean Human Rights Watch also added that during the last eviction, houses were tied with across with ropes with the end of the rope attached to a truck, after which the truck starts off and pulls the house down.

Occupants of such homes are then bundled into the trucks and dumped about 400 kilometres away from the farm.

Residents of the farm later got a High Court order to stop the eviction without a valid court order.

However the police are back again and still without a court order but with claims to be acting under superior authority of the first lady.

“The police are illegally tearing down homes at Arnolds Farm, leaving hundreds of people homeless and destitute in heavy rains and cold weather.

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“Residents have occupied the farm for 17 years, and any process to evict them should respect their rights and follow due process,” said Dewa Mavhinga, Southern Africa director at HRW.

Farmers on the land have lost their homes and their farms. They have also been restricted from going into the territory and have been told by the police that they would be trespassing if they do. Most of the farmers have no access to their farms to at least harvest or plant crops. 18 Police officers currently patrol the property.
Two residents, Tapiwa Dhaisi, 39, and Sinikiwe Mizivei, 32, were arrested and charged with criminal trespassing. Lawyers representing Dhaisi and Mizivei claim police assaulted their clients during their arrest. According to court papers, the pair “illegally entered into Arnolds Farm, which is owned by the First Family.” They were later released.

The Arnolds Farm Residents Association claims the government has not provided them with suitable alternative land. Since 2015, the government has resettled just five families from the farm. They have received no compensation.

HRW urged the Zimbabwean government to ensure the farm residents “are not denied their rights under international law and Zimbabwe’s constitution, including the rights to shelter, food, health, and the prohibition of torture”.

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