Peace Commission investigates Chipinge evictions

Ellen Mlambo
Chipinge Times Editor


CHIPINGE – The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) has send a team to Chipinge to investigate massive evictions of villagers by senior Government officials amassing prime agricultural land in the district for themselves.
The investigations are being carried out under Section 252 (f) of the Constitution and Section 3 (2) (a) of the NPRC Act chapter 10:32.

NPRC Commissioner-in-charge of Complaints Handling and Investigations Charles Masunungure confirmed the visit to Chipinge Times in an interview and said the mission took place at the end of last year.

Hundreds of villagers from different parts of the district were evicted in the last 12 months and dumped in the bush by the Police and Zimbabwe National Army. In some cases villagers had their dwellings destroyed and burnt down leaving families with children exposed to the cold and wet weather of Chipinge.

There are also several new cases where villagers have been given notices of eviction and these are still pending.
Masunungure warned that these evictions were a time bomb and unless resolved quickly the land disputes will escalate into violent conflicts. Pitying the villagers, Politician and lawyer, Lovemore Madhuku who comes from the district had to take up
some of the cases and represent the affected people in court recently. He actually realised that the evictions were unlawful
as they were being carried out without court orders and one group of evictees was granted safe return to the land where they had been evicted by the court.

The evictions involved senior Government officials including those from the office of the Minister of State for Manicaland. Officers at the level of the District Development Committee have been active on the ground.

Masunungure told Chipinge Times that the team from NPRC visited two villages affected by the evictions namely; Munyokowere in Middle Sabi and Gumai Village. He said there will be more visits in the near future as more areas and people are affected by the evictions.

At Gumai Village residents are now living in tents after being evicted from a farm claimed ownership by a person identified as Thabeta. The villagers’ homes were burnt down by the Police during an eviction process. At Munyokowere, villagers were on
several occasions served with eviction letters by Chipinge Rural District Council until a Mutare Judge Justice Mwayera stopped the evictions because the local authority did not have a court order.

“When we got into the district, we visited two wards but we discovered that there are more disputes in many other wards and we are going to re-visit the district,” said Masunungure.

He said the villagers were happy to see the commission attending to their complaints.

“The land disputes have taken too long to be resolved hence the hope by villagers that the NPRC could be the panacea this time. There are numerous land related disputes that if not addressed may become violent conflicts,” he added.

He said NPRC investigates human rights violations that cause or are a result of a dispute or conflict. A local governance practitioner and Platform for Youth and Community Development, PYCD Allan Murozvi said in Chipinge, the NPRC is seen as
the remedy for social political and economic crisis faced by victims of arbitrary evictions.local authority did not have a court order.

Masunungure said investigations of the evictions are going on. He said NPRC investigations are provided for in section 252 (f) of the Constitution and Section 3 (2) (a) of the NPRC Act chapter 10:32 and the Commission’s mandate is as provided in section 252 (a-j) of the constitution.

“When we got into the district, we visited two wards but we discovered that there are more disputes in many other wards and we are going to re-visit the district,” said Masunungure. He said the villagers were happy to see the commission attending to their
complaints.

“The land disputes have taken too long to be resolved hence the hope by villagers that the NPRC could be the panacea this time. There are numerous land related disputes that if not addressed may become violent conflicts,” he added.

He said NPRC investigates human rights violations that cause or are a result of a dispute or conflict.

A local governance practitioner and Platform for Youth and Community Development, PYCD Allan Murozvi said in Chipinge, the NPRC is seen as the remedy for social political and economic crisis faced by victims of arbitrary evictions. https://masvingomirror.com

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