Today (21 September 2016), as the progressive world commemorates the International Peace Day, we at Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights, stand with the Matobo Villagers whose rights and livelihood is being unjustly threatened by the expansion of the Maphisa ARDA Estate (being run by Trek) and encourage the villagers to peacefully stand up and defend their rights, resources and lands without fear as the freedom to peacefully demonstrate and petition is a right enshrined in Section 59 of the Constitution.
The expansion of Maphisa ARDA Estate will result in expropriation of farming land for over 200 families, displacements of over 50 homesteads, destruction of social cohesion and graves and loss of sustainable agricultural land and livelihood for over 250 families. Several human rights and fundamental freedoms are being violated by this decision and these include:
- Freedom from arbitrary eviction: as the current eviction of the families is being done without consultation or the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of the villagers;
- Right to agricultural lands: as the villagers’ farming and grazing lands are being taken away;
- The other rights that will subsequently be violated include right to dignity, right to food and water, right to shelter and right to life.
The villagers of Maphisa have a choice: either sit back and be victims of another Rhodesian kind of behavior of expropriating and dispossessing people’s lands without consultation or free, prior and informed consent and compensation; or stand up and peacefully take action to defend their rights and lands from being expropriated using a colonial boundary that was unjustly pegged by a colonial government that did so through gross human rights violations.
We encourage the Maphisa villagers to make use of the more than 198 non-violent forms of peaceful protests to defend their land from monopoly capital and unjust business practices using such actions and strategies that include but are not limited to:
- Public demonstrations calling for the reversal of this decision,
- Write a petition clearly indicating your position and it be signed by all the affected villagers,
- Write a position paper to be signed by the community leadership,
- Hold prayer meetings in the community and local churches over your land,
- Go to court and seek a court decision over the issue,
- Peacefully disrupt any activity that Trek may try to do in the new expansion area,
- Boycott paying taxes and levies to the local authority until this is reversed,
- Flood your traditional, elected and administrative leadership with complaints, letters, smses and calls demanding the reversal of this decision,
- Those in Bulawayo who are from Maphisa and are in solidarity with Maphisa residents begin boycotting buying fuel from Trek Garages as doing so is financing the violation of Maphisa villagers’ rights and the taking of their lands,
We note that various communities in Matabeleland have for years been silently and quietly complaining of marginalization of locals in local development and empowerment opportunities, expropriation of local resources without community benefit and partitioning of local lands without the consideration of local peoples and culture and we thus encourage all communities of Matabeleland to peacefully stand up to defend their rights, their resources and their lands.
Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights is an independent human rights watchdog that exists to enhance the use of peaceful actions to protect and promote human rights in the Matabeleland region of Zimbabwe.
The General Secretary
Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights