ZimRights Calls on the Government of Zimbabwe to Halt Evictions
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) has over the past few weeks received reports of people being evicted by the state from their homes in different parts of the country. This development revives the horrors of the 2005 Operation Murambatsvina that saw over 700 000 people being displaced from their dwellings. Most cases being reported are in Masvingo Province. The displacements are being done in rural, peri-urban, and urban areas. Displaced residents who spoke to ZimRights expressed shock at the development and pleaded for urgent resolution of the matter.
ZimRights is outraged at these developments that are causing a wholesale violation of human rights in the pretext of implementing the law. ZimRights calls on the Government of Zimbabwe to immediately halt these evictions. The law must protect and not destroy livelihoods.
Section 28 of the Constitution obliges the state to ensure that everyone has access to adequate shelter. Section 74 further provides protection against arbitrary eviction of people from their homes. An eviction is arbitrary where there is no proper consultation of the affected people, where there is no free consent, where there is no alternative land for them to settle on, there has been no impact assessment and no plan or resources for compensation of the affected persons.
Internal displacements are guided by the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (the Kampala Convention) to which Zimbabwe is a state party. The Convention applies to any form of internal displacement regardless of cause. Based on the reports that we received so far, it is evident that government agencies responsible for the ongoing evictions are in violation of both the Constitution of Zimbabwe as well as international law.
ZimRights reminds all duty bearers of their commitment and obligation to uphold the Constitution of Zimbabwe. In the run up to the 2023 elections, all political parties that are now in government signed the People’s Human Rights Manifesto’s 10 key asks, among which include the commitment to uphold and defend the integrity of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the commitment to protect and promote livelihoods as well as the commitment to provide land and decent housing to the people of Zimbabwe. While the ballot ink is still wet, these evictions are violation of these commitments and an assault on the people who have entrusted the government with the protection of their rights.
ZimRights calls upon the Government of Zimbabwe to halt the displacements and arrests of citizens. ZimRights calls on the government to respect, protect and fulfill human rights, to respect and protect the Constitution and to respect international law as it regards the ongoing evictions. ZimRights calls on the Parliament of Zimbabwe to stand with the people of Zimbabwe and repeal the Communal Lands Act that discriminates against rural landowners. We further call on the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) to carry out an urgent investigation into these ongoing violations.
ZimRights Information Department