A HIGH Court judge has struck off the roll an application by some villagers in Chishawasha seeking to stop their eviction to pave way for an urbanisation project.
In her judgment delivered on December 7, High Court judge Justice Emilia Muchawa ruled that the matter was not urgent.
She struck the case off the roll in terms of Rule 60(18) of the High Court Rules 2021.
Villagers in Chishawasha had approached the courts seeking an interdict to stop the urbanisation programme currently taking place.
The villagers accused the Chishawasha Land Project (Pvt) Limited, a company owned by the Catholic Church’s Jesuits, of drawing up plans to evict them from their ancestral communal land to turn it into an urban settlement.
The Jesuits acquired a permit for change of land use from agriculture to urban with predominant residential use in 2018 after obtaining a development permit from the Local Government ministry’s department of physical planning.
In their defence, the Jesuits, through their lawyers Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni Legal Practitioners, argued that the applicants knew about the developments as far back as June 2021.
The church said Integrated Properties, which is overseeing the development in the area as project managers, wrote to the villagers prohibiting them from undertaking further developments in the area.
“This letter (informing inhabitants of the urbanisation process) was attached to their application. Subsequent to this letter, the villagers attended engagement meetings convened by the developer,” the lawyers said.
“They, therefore, did not approach the court when the need to act arose. They did not challenge the permit in terms of section 38 of the Regional, Town and Country Planning Act.”
A census was conducted for all the vaShawashasa who will not be moved except for those in areas where roads, power lines, cemetery and other servitudes are located who will be compensated and relocated within Chishawasha using government approved rates.
Project general manager Isaac Chimbetete yesterday said: “Contrary to popular belief, the Jesuits are not fighting with VaShawasha, as they are aware of the villagers’ concerns.
“They have always engaged with all stakeholders, including the traditional leadership, the local authority and the VaShawasha living at Chishawasha Farm.”
He said no recognised VaShawasha would be evicted from Chishawasha Farm, which has now been converted into an urban project.
“The project is being undertaken in seven phases and we will be engaging those whose current residences fall within the current development phase service areas, to discuss with them about compensation and relocation to other stands within Chishawasha,” Chimbetete said.