High Court Judge Justice Jester Helena Charewa has stopped Chipinge Rural District Council (CRDC) from expropriating communal land belonging to some Chipinge villagers by interdicting the local authority from urbanising Kondo Communal Lands without following due process.
The villagers resorted to instituting legal action by filing an application at Mutare High Court on 16 May 2022 seeking an order to stop the violation of several of their constitutional rights including their right to property, their right to administrative justice and their right to information all guaranteed in the Constitution after some CRDC officials accompanied by those from the Department of Physical Planning, in November and December 2021, began surveying and pegging residential stands in Kondo Communal Lands in Chipinge without informing them about the process of urbanising the area.
In the application, which was filed by Tariro Tazvitya of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the villagers argued that CRDC had not consulted them before undertaking the urbanisation process and hence their concerns had not been considered in violation of the provisions of the Communal Lands Act, which stipulates the procedure in terms of which the urbanisation process must be done.
The villagers argued that urbanisation of their land has the effect of reducing the size of the land which they are in occupation of and asked the High Court to halt the process.
The Kondo villagers stated that they have inhabited Kondo Communal Lands since time immemorial, where they lead a communal way of life and rely on and carry out subsistence farming as a source of livelihood and hence it would be cumbersome to survive in an urban setup as they have no capacity or the means to cope with the urban way of life.
In response to the villagers’ application, Justice Charewa recently interdicted CRDC from urbanising Kondo Communal Lands without following due process.