SCORES of people who were recently evicted from farms across the country soon after the July 31 Zanu PF electoral victory last week said they were “used and dumped” by the ruling party.
BY TATENDA CHITAGU/BLESSED MHLANGA
Several Zanu PF supporters in Masvingo, Midlands and Mashonaland East province were in the past few weeks evicted from farms they had occupied for over a decade, rendering most families homeless.
They said before the polls, senior Zanu PF officials would visit the farms urging them to stay put in their bid to secure votes.
The supporters would be given “assurance” that they would not be evicted from the farms if Zanu PF won the elections, as resettlement was part of the party’s empowerment programme.
One such victim is Simukai Dowa (56), a Zanu PF supporter whose structures were demolished by riot police last week in Masvingo province.
Dowa, a widower and originally from the rocky and mountainous area of Bikita under Chief Mukanganwi’s area, was shocked to be evicted from a farm he had invaded over a decade ago.
Dowa, who was together evicted with 300 other families from Sundowns, Hungoidza, Chitemere, Potyo and Mukaro farms, said he felt he was used and dumped, especially since it’s soon after voting for President Robert Mugabe’s party, which promised empowerment of ordinary people before the elections.
Most of their children no longer go to school and have very little to eat.
They are drinking water from a nearby stream and use the bush for ablution.
“We voted for Zanu PF and after that, this is what we get,” said Dowa, who was donning a Zanu cap and pointing to what remains of what used to be his home at Chitemere Farm, about 35 kilometres off the Masvingo-Mutare highway.
Kundzai Ganyata under Chief Ziki in Bikita said she was left with only the clothes she was wearing after her huts were torched.
“I am left with only the clothes on my back after my huts were torched while I was away.”
Evicted families living in the open
John Fire Gumbo (72), a political detainee, moved from Gokwe-Nembudziya eight years ago at the height of the land invasions and settled at Farm 27 in Chimagora area in Gokwe, where he built a new home.
But two weeks ago and less than two months after Zanu PF won the elections, Gumbo was convicted of trespassing and illegally settling on the farm which belongs to one Farai Magadzire. He is one of the 75 families that were made homeless following their evictions from Farm 27 two weeks ago.
The eviction followed a Gokwe Magistrates court ruling delivered in September 2012, only 41 days after Zanu PF won the July 31 harmonised elections.
“It is as if they wanted us to vote for them first before evicting us,” said Gumbo. “These politicians came hear and campaigned, and gave us a message of hope saying land belonged to Zimbabweans and we would never be moved.”
The families have been living in the open along the Gokwe-Kwekwe highway, exposing their families to diseases as they do not have clean water, toilets and sufficient food.
Their homes were razed to the ground by police who allegedly defied pleas from Chief Misheck Njelele to stop the destruction of homes.
The chief wanted to find a “political solution” to the problem.
Eighty more families were last Thursday evicted from another farm belonging to Star FM presenter, Innocent Siboniso Tshuma in Chemagora.
Police dragged 15 settlers from his farm and charged them with trespassing and contempt of court.
They were each fined US$100.
Masvingo provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Peter Zhanero professed ignorance over the matter, saying he was yet to get the details.
“I have no comment at the moment. I am still to get the details and honestly, I cannot comment over something which I am not privy to,” said Zhanero.
The settlers accused the farm owners of also being fronts for the whites, a charge which could not be verified, as the owners could not be reached for comment.
Efforts to get a comment from Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo were fruitless last week. However, the party is on record saying that those who need land should follow the proper procedures.
Zimbabwe’s once flourishing commercial farming community of about 5 000 farmers was decimated by a campaign of violent seizures unleashed by Zanu PF since 2000.
The seizures triggered the collapse of the country’s agriculturally-based economy, and drove a myriad of farm workers — more than double the number of people purportedly resettled — into homelessness and poverty.