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Court sets aside Hwange villagers eviction

High Court

THE High Court has stopped arbitrary eviction of more than 100 villagers in Hwange, who faced displacement from their ancestral land to pave way for a motor racecourse.

In a statement yesterday, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said High Court judge Justice Evangelista Kabasa ruled that the decision by the Hwange Rural District Council to allocate 500 hectares of land to Stelix Civils  for construction of a motor racecourse was unlawful.

The ruling was made on September 15, 2022.

Stelix Civils had been granted a lease agreement by Hwange Rural District Council and was allocated land for purposes of developing a Formula One motor racecourse.

The company proceeded to fence off 500 hectares of land in an area which villagers had reserved as grazing land.

In the application, the villagers argued that their livelihoods would be affected as a result of the development of the racecourse and that they would not be able to survive.

The villagers argued that they were not consulted and were not offered alternative land and hence Stelix Civils’ conduct amounted to arbitrary eviction, which violates provisions of section 74 of the Constitution.

“After being aggrieved by the decision of Hwange Rural District Council, the more than 100 villagers in the three villages engaged Josephat Tshuma of ZLHR, who on 16 November 2021 filed an application at the Bulawayo High Court to review the decision by Hwange Rural District Council to allocate 500 hectares of land to Stelix Civils as the proposed project was taking away a large chunk of their communal land and effectively taking over their grazing area,” the ZLHR statement read.

“Accordingly, Justice Kabasa set aside Hwange Rural District Council’s decision to grant a lease agreement to Stelix Civils for the construction of a racing course and declared that any actions and conduct that had been taken by the local authority following the granting of a lease agreement to Stelix Civils are invalid.”

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