Hundreds left homeless

Almost 1000 people have been left homeless after police destroyed their homes on commercial farms.

Children have been taken out of school as families set up temporary shelters in the mountains.
Children have been taken out of school as families set up temporary shelters in the mountains.

The evictions at Ganyani, Selmore and Penhest farms, east of Masvingo, left families with little choice but to take their children out of school and set up camp in the surrounding mountains. They say they have nowhere to go, having lived as squatters on the farms for the past 10 years.

Felix Chikovo, the Masvingo provincial administrator, said the villagers had to be punished because they ignored earlier pleas to leave the farms.

“We gave the families notice and they just ignored them until we invited the law enforcement agents to effect the evictions,” he said. “They should have moved out long ago but we gave them time to harvest their crops first.”

Masvingo has an estimated 3,000 families squatting on farms and wildlife conservancies.

The evicted villagers watched helplessly as police destroyed their homes and threatened them with arrest if they interfered.

Although The Zimbabwean could not establish the names of the new farm owners, all were senior civil servants and politicians at the height of the Zanu (PF) inspired land invasions in 2000.

Albert Chiroso, claiming to be speaking on behalf of the villagers, said the families were desperate. He urged the government to intervene and protect the women and children now living under trees.

“We did not know that the Zanu (PF) government would treat us like this,” said Chiroso. “We occupied this area during the height of farm invasions and we have been living a good life as peasant farmers. We voted for Zanu (PF) in the July31 harmonized elections but soon after the polls we were ordered to leave this area.”

Masvingo police provisional spokesman, Inspector Peter Zhanero, confirmed the evictions but refused to give details.

“The evictions are ongoing for people who are illegally occupying land,” he said.

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