MAZOWE villagers yesterday chickened out of a demonstration against President Robert Mugabe, First Lady Grace and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) over the continued harassment they are being subjected as a way to force them out of Arnold Farm.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
Scores of villagers had gathered at an assembly point early in the morning, planning to stage a mini demonstration in Mazowe before heading to Harare, where they intended to picket at Mugabe’s offices.
“We woke up early and met at our usual point to embark on our demonstration. However, we were told that today (Wednesday) was not the best day and that our legal practitioners didn’t want us to be confrontational. We have rescheduled for the weekend, likely Friday or Saturday,” one of the villagers said.
“We were going to demonstrate at the farm before going to Harare. In Harare, we wanted to go to the President’s office. We are facing too many challenges, among them daily harassment by law enforcement agents, who have erected boom gates, where they conduct strict vetting before letting people in.
“They have ordered us not to construct new structures after they destroyed our houses. We are facing the rainy season and we cannot continue sleeping in the open. There were rains on Monday and you can imagine what happened. That must stop.”
Others said the whole community was likely to join in because vehicles, including villagers’ and well-wishers’, were being blocked from entering the disputed farm.
However, Moses Nkomo, from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who is representing the villagers, said they were free to express themselves in the manner they wished.
“As a legal practitioner, I cannot recommend to be confrontational, neither can I prevent them from being confrontational because it is a decision outside my mandate. It is their call to make. On our part, we are pursuing legal remedies,” he said.
“There is a matter of contempt of court that is before the court and we have written several correspondences to the relevant minister and others. We actually got some slightly positive response from the police.
“They are saying if these villagers are disturbed or harassed in any way, they should report at Mazowe Police Station and if they refuse to accept their concerns, they should go to the Officer-in-Charge, who is under instructions to deal with the matter.”