High Court Judge Justice Evangelista Kabasa has stopped the arbitrary eviction of more than 100 villagers in Hwange, which was meant to pave
way for the establishment of a motor-racing course and which could have displaced them from their ancestral land and ruin their livelihoods.
Stelix Civils had been granted a lease agreement by Hwange Rural District Council and was allocated land for the purposes of developing a Formula One grade motor racing course and proceeded to fence off 500 hectares of land in an area which villagers of villagers of Chibode, Kachecheti and Nemananga wards use as grazing area for their livestock.
The motor racing course was to be constructed on land that the villagers use as grazing land and also use to sustain their livelihoods.
In the application, the villagers argued that their livelihoods would be affected as a result of the development of the racing course and they would not be able to survive in their villages.
The villagers argued that they were not consulted and were not offered alternative land and hence Stelix Civils’ conduct amounts 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 three villages of Chibobe, Kachechete and Nemangwe engaged Josephat Tshuma of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, who on 16 November 2021 filed an application at 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.
On 15 September 2022, Justice Kabasa ruled that the decision made by the local authority to allocate 500 hectares of land to Stelix Civils was unlawful.
The High Court Judge stated that Hwange Rural District Council had no authority to allocate land to Stelix Civils to establish a racing course.
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.