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evictions feared as Chombo stokes up persecution and displacement
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
May 15, 2012
For Human Rights (ZLHR) condemns in the strongest possible terms
utterances attributed to the minister of Local Government, Rural
and Urban Development, Ignatius Chombo as reported in an article
published in the State-run Chronicle newspaper on Friday 11 May
2012, entitled "Kick out gays: Minister".
In the article, minister Chombo is alleged to have urged chiefs
to banish "people who support homosexuality" from their
communities and take away their land. According to the newspaper
article, Chombo made the remarks when he addressed hundreds of villagers
during the installation of Vusumuzi Nicodmus Mabhikwa in Jotsholo,
Lupane, Matabeleland North province as Chief Mabhikwa Khumalo.
ZLHR is concerned that such utterances will give rise to an increase
in incidents of harassment, persecution, as well as unlawful arbitrary
evictions and seizure of property, which evictions and deprivations
are a violation of our national laws, as well as the
African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, to which
Zimbabwe is a signatory.
Chombo's appetite for forced evictions, especially in the
month of May, is reminiscent of the scorched earth programme of
Murambatsvina which had far-reaching consequences on a large
portion of the Zimbabwean population.
Such political grandstanding serves only to highlight the blatant
disrespect for the rule of law and to underline the lack of sincerity
by a minister from a political party which pretends to support economic
and social justice - particularly land rights - for the majority
poor of Zimbabwe.
Instead, Chombo should be ashamed of his, and the government's
failure to provide adequate alternative accommodation and/or compensation
to those people who were left homeless and jobless almost 7 years
By inciting villagers and chiefs to target "people who support
homosexuality", and linking the debate to the purported support
of homosexuality and same-sex marriages by other political parties
in Zimbabwe, it is clear that Chombo is seeking to mislead people,
and to initiate a witch-hunt within peace-loving communities.
It is clear that this will then be used as a pretext to clamp down
on political opponents as the country moves towards a fresh election,
drive out perceived supporters of alternative political parties
on the basis that they "support homosexuality", and
increase internal displacement so that people will find it difficult
to vote during the polls.
It is the greatest scandal that seven years on, victims of Operation
Murambatsvina are still left to survive in plastic shacks without
basic services. Because these victim's voices have for long
been consistently ignored, ZLHR fears that their needs are at risk
of being totally forgotten.
It is also shameful that instead of ensuring due process and respect
for human rights by speeding up the provision of alternative and
adequate accommodation to those whom the government made homeless,
Chombo finds it appropriate to threaten another Murambatsvina on
The minister, and others who have been and continue to speak on
public platforms in similar vein, should refrain from such irresponsible
utterances that have the effect of impacting arbitrarily on the
peoples' constitutionally protected rights to property, protection
of the law, and protection from arbitrary or forced evictions and
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