Wilson Chipangura, Guest Reporter
MASVINGO – High Court judge panel this week reserved judgment on an application by Chilonga villagers who were challenging provisions of the Communal Lands Act seeking to evict them from their ancestral land.
The villagers argued through their lawyers that the act did not respect African traditional values with regards to land ownership.
In a statement, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), said the villagers had approached the High Court seeking an order to set aside sections 4 and 6(1)(b) of the Communal Lands Act.
The marginalised Chilonga villagers approached the courts in March this year challenging government’s plans to evict more than 12 000 of them from Chilonga to pave way for a commercial irrigation venture.
Initial reports were that the villagers were being evicted to pave way for a lucerne project by Dendairy.
The local dairy company owned by a white farmer Neville Coetzee with links to President Emmerson Mnangagwa was given the green light to evict at least 12 000 villagers in Chilonga, Chiredzi from their ancestral land.
The Kwekwe based firm, Dendairy, was awarded the place in Chilonga and intended to farm lucerne grass which is used for stockfeed.
Lucerne has the highest feeding value of all common hay crops especially with its high protein content.
“The Chilonga villagers want the High Court to set aside sections 4 and 6(1)(b) of the Communal Lands Act arguing that the two sections are unconstitutional and offend some provisions of the Constitution.
“The Chilonga villagers who are farmers grow sorghum, maize and millet and they argue that the Communal Lands Act denies them the right to self-determination of Africans in Zimbabwe and has no room in post-independent Zimbabwe.”
The outdated Communal Lands Act was described by the Chilonga villagers as a racist and colonial creature. which regarded Africans as uncivilised.
“The villagers queried why an African can own a house in Harare’s plush suburb of Borrowdale, but he cannot own his ancestral home in Chiredzi, Mwenezi, Dotito, Chendambuya, Nyaki or Tsholotsho,” reads the statement from ZLHR.
The application was heard by Harare High Court judges, Justices Joseph Mafusire, Never Katiyo and Chipo Mungwari.