Outspoken Filabusi chief Vezi Maduna Mafu has called on the government to evict suspected Zanu PF members who were illegally settled in the area to pave way for villagers who have rights to the land.
This comes after 50 villagers who settled at Hilton Farm in Insiza District reportedly received eviction letters from the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement.
However, some of the villagers who received the eviction letters had documents from the government.
Secretary for Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, Ringson Chitsiko wrote a letter on February 1, 2019, ordering the villagers to vacate the farm within seven days as they were violating Section 3 of the Gazetted Lands (Consequential Provisions) Act Chapter 20:28 by occupying it without lawful authority.
The villagers were given up to February 8, 2019, to vacate the property, failure to do so will result in their arrest and prosecution in terms of the Gazetted Land Act.
But, the villagers vowed not to move as they were placed there by the area’s traditional leadership.
Chief Maduna said he was very specific about his orders pertaining to evictions involving those placed by traditional leaders.
“Illegal settlers who were placed there by party officials should go as they are wrongfully placed and are depleting grazing land,” said Chief Maduna.
“I will support those villagers who I granted land and those with offer letters as they must not be evicted.”
In an interview with CITE, one of the affected villagers, Dumisani Moyo who survived eviction said there was something fishy about the ongoing evictions.
He highlighted that he had been given land in Nkankezi Village 18A by village head Enock Ndlovu.
“I was looking for a place to settle and start my farming. I went to a headman looking for a place and said he would assign me land which was an extension to his village. After receiving the land, I started building my home but afterward the land and agriculture officials came and told us we were settled illegally,” Moyo narrated.
He said he and other affected villagers refused to sign the eviction letters and had to consult the traditional leadership about the matter.
“We even went to the chief and he said none of his villagers must be evicted and whoever wants to do that must consult him. Initially, the land officials told us the only land was awarded by the Minister, not a village head but later realised that the constitution (Section 282) gives traditional leaders authority to do that,” Moyo noted.
Other villagers facing evictions had to seek intervention from Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) which engaged its lawyers, Ncube – Tshabalala Attorneys.
MRP president and his leadership, in the company of local headmen, went to the Lands office in Filabusi to deliver a letter from the lawyers, seeking clarity on the eviction of villagers from Hilton Farm.
“The team was confronted by one Ronald Ncube who refused to accept the correspondence from the lawyers. The officer, who introduced himself as a land technician, referred the villagers to Gwanda, although the eviction letter was from Filabusi. The eviction letters had no government stamp to confirm authenticity,” said Mqondisi Moyo.
The MRP delegation also met with the Chief Maduna who gave assurance that no one would be evicted in his area of jurisdiction and gave them latitude to assist the affected villagers.
“Villagers complained bitterly about the untouchable sitting MP, Farai Taruvinga, who has brought misery upon them after making false promises before his election. When the villagers approached him on the issue of evictions he simply told them to vacate their places.
“As MRP we reiterate that the custodians of land are chiefs and headmen and an eviction notice in Matabeleland is expected to carry the signature of our traditional leadership,” he alleged.
Recently, over 200 families were left homeless after they were evicted from Stoncroft Farm in Umguza where they have illegally settled a decade ago.