Banana farmers fight eviction by ZimParks

BANANA farmers and villagers in Chimanimani district in Manicaland have filed an urgent High Court application to block their eviction by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) without a court order.

BY KENNETH NYANGANI

During the past weeks, several villagers have been arrested by the police while ZimParks has threatened to demolish their homes and banana crops.

About 223 banana farmers were set to lose their farms.

Lawyers Maunga Maanda and Associates were instructed by the Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (ZELA) to file an urgent application at the High Court in Mutare on Monday to stop the evictions.

Willie Mafuta, who is the first applicant, said in his founding affidavit that ZimParks and its agents were arbitrarily arresting villagers in violation of the Constitution, as no eviction order had been secured from the courts.

“I can confirm that the first respondent (ZimParks), through its agents, are threatening to evict us from the Chikware and Mapembere villages. The threats are real as arrests have already been made and they are coming to our areas heavily armed,” he said.

“Should the respondent not be stopped from unlawful evictions, a total of 223 people stand to be affected, as they will be left homeless with no source of income and food.”

The lawyers claimed that the matter was urgent as the applicants and their families were vulnerable by virtue of living in a remote area with no real time communication.