A Zimbabwean High court has ruled against Grace Mugabe move to seize yet another farm, as she seeks to expand her empire in the prime farming area of Mazowe.
High court judge Felistus Chatukuta on Friday upheld an urgent chamber application filed by Mazowe villagers effectively interdicting the police from evicting them from Arnold Farm at the behest of President Robert Mugabe’s wife.
The villagers had occupied the property for the past 17 years courtesy of Mugabe’s controversial land reforms.
But on Wednesday this week, they were shocked to be confronted by heavily armed police accompanied by government land officials who started to demolish their homes without a court order and in flagrant violation of an earlier court order issued on January 14, 2015 barring the state from evicting them.
“The respondents (government and police) are hereby ordered to immediately restore possession ante ominia of the applicants (villagers) plots situated at Arnold Farm Number 10 Maze,” read part of the Judge ruling issued on Friday.
“The respondents to be are hereby barred and indicted from harassing the applicants at Arnold Farm, by demolishing their houses or purporting to evict them without a court order…”
Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe has forcible seized several other properties within the vicinity where the First Family is farming and has established a state of the art orphanage complete with a school. Government officials supporting her actions maintained she needed the land to establish a game sanctuary.
In an urgent chamber application filed on Thursday the villagers argued that they would suffer irreparable harm if the High Court did not intervene to save them.
The villagers, who argued that they had been in undisturbed and peaceful possession of their pieces of land and property also said that their crops were at risk of being destroyed by animals or vandalised while their belongings and household properties which were in the open right now were at risk of suffering irreparable damage.
The applicants contended that their health was at risk since their homes had been destroyed and they had nowhere to go. They also said that if they lost their crops they will starve to death and their children will not be able to go to school because they relied on crops for food and income.
The villagers charged that they had regarded Anold Farm as their home since they were authorised to settle at the farm by the government in 2000 at the height of the government-backed fast track land reform programme.