Harare – Around 150 families who had their homes in central Zimbabwe demolished this week to make way for a game reserve for First Lady Grace Mugabe are waiting to hear if a judge will rule their case should be heard urgently, a lawyer said on Friday.
Gift Mtisi of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) told Sapa that lawyers had instituted contempt of court proceedings against police and two ministers in President Robert Mugabe‘s government over the demolitions, on Manzou Estate in Mazowe district.
“We are now waiting for a judge to make a decision on whether the matter is urgent or not so that it can be heard anytime [from now],” Mtisi said.
The families were granted a court order last year preventing the authorities from evicting them from their homes near Mazowe – where Grace Mugabe already owns an orphanage, a school and a farm – until they had been allocated alternative land.
Mtisi said: “In respect of the court order, which we already had, we instituted contempt of court proceedings. We are defending the order which was granted last year.”
The two ministers cited are the minister of land and the minister of home affairs.
Human rights groups and opposition parties have slammed the demolition of the houses belonging to the villagers, some of who have been living at Manzou Estate for the last 14 years.
Separate reports on Friday said that another 600 families from the nearby Celtic Farm had also been told to vacate their plots to make way for Grace Mugabe.
“According to Grace Mugabe, might is right and the rights of the poor do not matter at all as long as the rich and powerful get their way,” Movement for Democratic Change spokesman Obert Gutu said.
The Heal Zimbabwe Trust, a prominent local rights group, said in a statement issued on Friday: “Some of the victims are sleeping in the open and most of them have young babies and children.”
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