It will not work: Turmoil at Manzou Farm, settlers given 7-day ultimatum to leave their homes

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Settlers at a farm in Mazowe, once claimed by former first lady Grace Mugabe, say there are fresh moves to remove them from the property, a few years after they won the right to remain at their homes.

The villagers at Manzou Farm accused Mashonaland Central Provincial minister Monica Mavhunga of orchestrating the renewed bid to evict them.

They said people claiming to be government officials last week gave them seven days to leave their homes.

“There are some people who came here on Thursday driving a vehicle with government number plates warning us to leave the farm in seven days,” said one of the villagers.

“However, they are failing to understand that even if we are to move out, we still have crops in the fields and we have since built some permanent structures.”

The villagers said they refused to sign eviction orders brought by the unnamed officials.

“This is our home and we are not going anywhere. We took over the farm from a white farmer named Arnold sometime back,” another villager said.

“Police tried to evict us in 2015, but it didn’t work although they destroyed our properties and crops.

“We thought after the removal of (former president Robert) Mugabe things would work in our favour, but we were wrong.

“It will be unfair to remove many of us here and replace everyone with one senior official. It is unfair and it will not work.”

For several years, the villagers were locked in a bitter ownership wrangle with the former first family over the farm.

At one point, they went for years without proper shelter after police razed down their homes.

Mavhunga said she did not know anything about the planned evictions.

“The villagers are the ones who can best explain their situation,” she said. “They must go to the offices to seek help.”

The government has been evicting scores of people that occupied commercial farms at the height of the controversial land reform programme 19 years ago.

Meanwhile, over 22 families spent the night out in the cold, having been evicted from a subdivision of Glenara Estates along the old Mazowe Road on Thursday, following a High Court order.

The farm was allocated to Mavis Rondozai in 2001 at the height of Zimbabwe’s bloody farm invasions.

Rondozai was reportedly allocated the land illegally, triggering a protracted court battle as farm owner Kelvin James won the right to return to his farm 17 years later.

The farm, which was now being run by Rondozai’s children following her death in 2006, had become home to nearly 100 people who were also forced out of the land. They had their homes destroyed under the watch of the Deputy Sheriff.

Tambudzai Chikukutu, who was evicted from the farm said they had left their cattle, farm, produce and 17 years of a livelihood following the eviction.

“We had paid fees for our children for the term that opens next week, bought uniforms; we are even yet to harvest our crops, but following this cruel move we are left without hope and
disturbed,” she said.

During the fast trek land reform programme, most farms were taken from whites before they harvested their crops.

Another victim, Abigail Mujere, said reports were that their offer letters had been dismissed as fraudulent.

“They argue that the summons in the matter where the former farm owner was filling for eviction were served at the wrong address. They further argued that our offer letters were
fake, but we know they are not fake. Something fishy is going on,” she said.

Mujere said the farm was handed over to her in-laws by Transport deputy minister Fortune Chasi.

“We were given the keys to the house by our MP Chasi in 2001. We have since approached him so that he deals with this matter. He has promised to help us,” she said.

A number of illegal farm invaders have, of late, been evicted from the various farms they grabbed in 2000.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has, however, said the land reform will not be reversed, but the latest evictions are raising anxiety among the new farmers.

— The Standard/NewsDay


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