Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri has defended the move by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) to declare Elphida Farm in Domboshava a cantonment area, saying it was in the interest and safety of the civilians that such a declaration was made.
BY CHARLES LAITON
Muchinguri said when a sub division of Lichfield Willesden was declared a cantonment area under section 6 of Statutory Instrument (SI) 93 of 2006 (Defence (Cantonments) Notice, 2006, by her predecessor, the ZDF’s move was to ensure the country maintained its national security and at the same time protected members of the public such as the 10 civilians that petitioned the court challenging the declaration.
“The Defence ministry in declaring this area a cantonment or protected area is actually ensuring the safety and security of these very applicants who have brought this application before the court. There is also Zimbabwe Defence Manufacturing Industry (ZDMI), where explosives are made and tested. There is also the risk of accidental discharge within the area which might put their lives at risk as well,” Muchinguri said.
“The restriction of unauthorised civilians in such an area is a precautionary measure that we take in order to further our functions as the ZDF as outlined in section 212 of the Constitution….the presence of non-military personnel who are not authorised in the area poses a huge national threat.”
Muchinguri made the remarks in her opposing affidavit filed on September 18, 2018, to an application by A2 farmers – Samuel Mandiri, Alex Mushinyi, Dzikamai Ngoshi, Isdore Mafuriranwa, Ponciano Govere, Dominic Musekiwa, Lucy Chitsungo, Tinashe Mafuta, Roy Ngwenya and Obvious Mahlunje — who approached the High Court seeking an order declaring section 6 of SI 93 of 2016 invalid and unconstitutional.
According to the farmers, on April 21, 2016 former Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi, made a declaration by publishing in the Government Gazette notice number 44 in line with section 89 of the Defence Act which placed Elphida Domboshava area into a military establishment.
The farmers argued that the development had resulted in their leased farms being made military-controlled areas.
But in response, Muchinguri said the application has not been properly put before the court for the reason that in matters involving land claims, the Lands minister is an interested party and should therefore have been cited in the application.
The matter is set for hearing today.