FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
22 JANUARY 2019
The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) is saddened by the reports of events that occurred at around 22:00hrs on the 21st January in ARDA Transau. ZELA received disturbing reports that on the said night, a group of men who identified themselves as members of the security forces intimidated and threatened the Chairperson of the ARDA Transau Relocation Development Trust, Mr. Donald Masvaure, at his place of residence with unspecified action should he continue to mobilize the community to seek legal redress in a pending court case.
The threats and intimidation came at a time when the Trustees of the ARDA Transau Relocation Development Trust, led by Mr. Masvaure were planning on convening a meeting to update the community on the progress of their case set down for hearing at the Mutare High Court on the 24th January 2019 before Justice Mwayera. The residents are being represented by lawyers who have been instructed by ZELA. In the said case, the Trust is seeking an order compelling the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing to furnish it with the records and all documents pertaining to the relocation of the residents of ARDA Transau from Chiadzwa. It also seeks an order compelling the same Minister to furnish information relating to the tenure system to be given to the relocated residents.
The Trust and the residents as a whole have a constitutional right to access the requested information guaranteed by the section 62 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. Accordingly, the court will be persuaded on the 24th of January to make a finding that the Attorney General neglected his duties and obligation to promote, protect and uphold the Constitution and defend the public as provided for in section 114(4) of the Constitution by failing to advise the Minister of Local Government and Public Works and National Housing.
ZELA categorically condemns these unlawfully actions aimed at stopping or discouraging communities to assert their rights through the courts. It is worth noting that the residents as represented by the Trust have the right to access the courts in Zimbabwe as enshrined in section 69(3) of the Constitution. The realisation of this right should not be discouraged through unlawful and forceful means. The threats and intimidation have no place in a constitutional democracy like Zimbabwe. ZELA calls upon the Zimbabwe Republic Police to investigate the incident, identify the culprits and bring them to book in line with their constitutional mandate as provided for in section 219 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
Furthermore, ZELA is concerned about the security and safety of the residents of ARDA Transau and is appealing to all the relevant authorities to give all the necessary support and protection in order to ensure that justice prevails.
“Environmental justice through sustainable and equitable utilization of natural resources and environmental protection”