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Civic groups urge Rights Commission to probe Matobo land dispute

Civic groups urge Rights Commission to probe Matobo land dispute

By  | September 19, 2016

THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has been urged by a civic grouping to investigate a land dispute between Matobo villagers and the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) in Matabeleland South.

Source: Civic groups urge Rights Commission to probe Matobo land dispute – NewsDay ZimbabweSeptember 19, 2016

BY NQOBANI NDLOVU

Arda struck a partnership with Trek Petroleum to carry out farming activities at its Maphisa Estates, but villagers complained that the project has encroached into their ancestral lands.

Matobo senator Sithembile Mlotshwa (pictured) told Southern Eye that villagers in the area were being evicted from their lands, while graves were being desecrated to pave way for the project with no word of compensation.

The Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) said its investigation team visited the area recently, and confirmed the eviction of villagers to pave way for the project.

The MIHR described the development as a gross human rights violation, and in a letter to the ZHRC dated August 19 urged the commission to also investigate the matter with a view to coming up with a solution to protect villagers from losing their ancestral lands.

“The expansion of the ARDA Estate by Trek in Maphisa (Matobo District) will cause gross human rights violations especially the right to agricultural land — Section 72 of the Constitution, right to food and water — Section 77 of the Constitution and freedom from arbitrary eviction Section 74 of the Constitution.

“The affected communities are noting with concern that the Trek decision to expand the ARDA estate fields has violated the principles of public administration and leadership as espoused in Chapter 9 Section 194 and 196 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” the MIHR said in its letter to the ZHRC.

“We call on the ZHRC to approach the Matobo wards 3, 4 and 19 community and investigate the issue…to assist the Matobo Ward 3, 4 and 19 communities to retain their farming lands and sites of their homestead by halting this rights violating and administratively biased land expansion decision and issue a public statement on the issue after its investigations on the issue have been finished.”

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