A number of villagers at Manzou Farm in Mazowe are living in fear after their homes were destroyed by suspected Zanu PF militia as efforts to force them to pave way for first lady Grace Mugabe intensify.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
The villagers have been harassed since 2015 by police who on several occasions tried to evict them from the farm.
One of the victims with a newly-born baby said her child was sleeping in the open after their makeshift shelter was destroyed last week.
“I have a two-week-old baby and imagine, she is sleeping in a plastic shelter,” said the woman who refused to be named for fear of reprisals.
“That is her home now since everything was destroyed. This is the life we are living here.
“There are a lot of children who are staying in these inhabitable conditions.
“The situation is very bad and it seems the world has given up on us.
“When police came to destroy our houses they even threaten us with physical harm.”
The villagers said life had become unbearable at the farm.
“The most disheartening part is that we are not allowed to do our income- generating projects like gardening,” said a villager, who identified himself as Paradzai Mwambiwa.
“We were settled at the farm for the past 17 years, but the last two years have been the saddest.
“We are failing to take care of our families, we are sleeping in the open and this exposes us to serious health problems.”
However, Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs minister Martin Dinha defended the harassment of the villagers, saying they were at the farm illegally.
He dismissed claims the villagers were being forced to pave way for the construction of the proposed Robert Mugabe University.
“The university site is not at Manzou or anywhere near where the illegal settlers were,” Dinha said.
“The story and false narrative by our detractors continues to change every day and more falsehoods peddled by the handlers of these people.
“The whole of Manzou Game Park constitute a wildlife reserve and more importantly, the most sacred traditional place in Zimbabwe, the state-gazetted Nehanda National Monument.
“The people illegally settled at Manzou are aware that they are illegal settlers and must not be staying anywhere near that place.”
He said the settlers were allocated alternative land.