Although the rains that started falling in Matabeleland this past week have been hugely welcomed, about 80 families living at Badminton Farm in Nyamandlovu were left cursing their luck, and the sheriff, after watching two truckloads of police in riot gear burn down their homes.
“They do this every year, it’s difficult for people to be building homes every year.
“I think for the last five years they have been burning our homesteads, every year.
“Around this time, in the rainy season, they must burn.
“This makes people spend farming time building homes. And not get time to farm.
“In other words, they are part of the reason why we have food shortages.
“There is no year that goes by without them burning our homesteads,” Isaac Dakamela, the chairperson of the Badminton Villagers Association, said.
The association represents about 500 families who started moving into the farm located in Umguza District, Matabeleland North, in 2011.
The villagers, who come from different parts of the country and are mostly Zanu PF supporters, maintain they were legally allocated the land by Chief Deli Mabhena.
In 2016, through the High Court in Bulawayo, Badminton Block Company, represented by Luke Siziba, obtained a default order in its eviction case against the villagers, who have been defiant but have had to deal with their homes being demolished every year on the basis of that order.
The villagers contend that they were never served any court summons back then and they were not served any notice of eviction for this round of demolitions.
The villagers believe their case against Siziba has now been further strengthened after their lawyers from Mutatu, Masamvu and Da Silva-Gustavo in 2019 discovered that the disputed farm was in fact gazetted under the A1 scheme in 2001.
Bruce Masamvu, a spokesperson for the lawyers, said they were preparing an urgent court application against the latest demolitions, in addition to the pending applications.
Sihle Hadebe, whose home was burnt again in 2013 and 2015, said she was surprised that this had happened despite being in possession of a letter from Chief Deli giving ownership of the land.
“Where will I sleep when it’s raining like this? The agriculture extension workers were here to teach us about farming methods,” said Hadebe.
“How will I do the planting this season when I am living in the open?
“What will I eat? They expect us to continue begging the government for food when we can grow our crops.”
This latest episode in the Badmintown Farm ownership wrangle brings yet again into the spotlight role of the institution of traditional leadership and the conflict inherent between chiefs and other institutions of the state.
Meanwhile, some 362 people from Chipinge are living by the roadside after their homesteads were burnt down by Police during an eviction from Daff Jourbert’s Anex Farm in Ward 11 Chipinge two weeks ago.
Zanu PF political commissar for Chipinge, Ketai Chandaengerwa who visited the families on Thursday could not stomach it. She expressed outrage at what she saw and criticized her party for lacking sympathy when she addressed the families in the presence of Chipinge Times reporters on Thursday.
She bemoaned the environment and called on President Mnangagwa to intervene otherwise Zimbabwe’s independence becomes meaningless with people living under such conditions.
“Chiefs who took over farms left by white farmers drive through here every day but their hearts are not touched by this situation. We all fought for this country but some are enjoying the fruits while others have bloody tears,” said a fuming Chandaengerwa.
— The Standard/Mirror