Policy Brief: Homelessness and Evictions in Zimbabwe

/Purpose of this Brief

The purpose of this brief is to highlight the challenges and impact of evictions in Zimbabwe. Evictions in Zimbabwe usually take the form of destruction of property through arson or demolition. Some of these evictions have been unlawful resulting in homelessness, disintegration, displacement of families and communities. The brief also makes recommendations to the State to intervene and assist the already displaced families and communities through aid, protection and compensation.

The Problem of Evictions

The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) have noted with concern the escalation of evictions in Zimbabwe. As such the Forum and ZPP documented evictions in Mashonaland Central in Mazowe South at Arnold farm; Mashonaland East in Marondera West at Maganga farm, Mashonaland West in Norton at Kingsdale housing cooperative, Harare in Arcadia, Chitungwiza , and Dzivarasekwa. The survey revealed that a total of 933 households were arbitrarily evicted in 2017 only. The results of this survey demonstrate a culture of arbitrary evictions. This has been the nature of evictions since the 2005 Operation Murambatsvina when 700 000 people were displaced. The problem of evictions has also been exacerbated by the so called land barons and some housing cooperatives who illegally parcel out municipal and State land to unsuspecting members of the public.

The Law on Evictions

Section 74 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe stipulates that “no person may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished, without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances.” Also the obligation of States to refrain from, and protect against, forced evictions from home(s) and land arises from several international legal instruments that protect the human right to adequate housing and other related human rights. These include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (art. 11, para. 1), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (art. 27, para. 3), the non-discrimination provisions found in article 14, paragraph 2 (h), of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and article 5 (e) of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence”, and further that “everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks”. Article 16, paragraph 1, of the Convention on the Rights of the Child contains a similar provision. Other references in international law include article 21 of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees; article 16 of International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No. 169 concerning indigenous and tribal peoples in independent countries (1989); and article 49 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949 (Fourth Geneva Convention). 3. The present guidelines address the human rights implications of development linked evictions and related displacement in urban and/or rural areas. These guidelines represent a further development of the Comprehensive human rights guidelines on development-based displacement (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1997/7, annex). They are based on international human rights law, and are consistent with general comment No. 4 (1991) and general comment No. 7 (1997) of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (E/CN.4/1998/53/Add.2), the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law, adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 60/147, and the Principles on housing and property restitution for refugees and displaced persons (see E/CN.4/Sub.2/2005/17 and Add.1).

Source: Zimbabwe Peace Project and Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum

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