War veterans demand dialogue before mass evictions

War veterans recently urged the government to prioritize dialogue with people settled in communal land facing eviction, instead of resorting to forceful methods like those seen in the recent demolitions.

This request comes as the government has taken a harsher stance against “illegal structures” on state agricultural property and has begun demolishing people’s homes.

The government has claimed that its operation is not intended to punish citizens but to ensure that people follow proper procedures in acquiring state land.

However, war veterans, like legislators recently in Parliament, point out that illegal allocation of land has been taking place for years without following proper allocation channels, with people allocating land to each other through village heads, councillors, and local authorities.

They add that the timing of the evictions is off since Zimbabwe is battling a deadly cholera outbreak.

In an interview with The Breakfast Club, a show hosted by CITE, Matabeleland North provincial chairperson of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) John Nkanyezi Sibanda said that the government should first engage with people rather than resorting to evictions.

“We must work together and come up with solutions. People must also have minutes of meetings about what would have transpired for these demolitions to be sanctioned. I recently saw the lands minister on TV surrounded by police saying people must vacate in 24 hours, yet people’s cries on the ground are unbearable,” he said.

“It’s painful to see demolitions of storied houses or people leaving their boreholes.”

Nkanyezi said the evictions were causing tension, and several war veterans in Matabeleland North had approached him as the provincial war vets chairperson.

“War vets have come to me saying the government should not use an iron fist,” he claimed.

The former war veterans’ leader proposed that the government use land committees run by the District Development Committee (DDC) and those handled provincially to reach out to the affected individuals.

“The minister should use the old law of resettling people. Use land committees run by the DDC, provincial land committees, and AREX (Department of Agriculture and Rural Extension) who determine the carrying capacity of the land,” Nkanyezi said.

“The minister should go to those structures and have meetings with people instead of inviting conflict. People are struggling and need land to survive. Perhaps the government can give them time, such as one year, to look for alternative land or even intervene and allocate land to them elsewhere.”

Nkanyezi added that the way authorities were treating people was as if “these resettled people are not known by the government.”

“As human beings, we are not supposed to be harsh like that. The government must be flexible with its people.”

Nkanyezi also accused politicians of engineering this crisis because they wanted votes and misled people.

“Councilors and MPs are putting these people on that land so they can have votes. Now after having the votes in less than an hour, people are evicted,” he said.

“You then don’t see them coming to defend people. It’s not right!”

The former war veterans’ leader expressed surprise that there had been no news of arrests of those responsible for the illegal resettlement.

“It’s just quiet. Why is it like that? We are appealing to the minister of lands to come up with solutions to solve this conflict. This is why we are asking the government to not evict people by force and stop their heavy-handedness,” Nkanyezi said.

“These are Zimbabweans. You don’t use an axe handle to beat your child, but you use something light to discipline them. When you see a teacher taking a weapon to beat a child, you become alarmed. So we request for the two parties to sit down and talk as reasonable people.”

Nkanyezi noted that it was also upsetting that local structures were bypassed and did not defend people while participating in “demolitions of people’s houses.”

“The land staff for Matabeleland North is at Mhlahlandlela Government Complex, there is staff at the DDC offices, but they have not said anything. Some of them took people’s money and resettled them. Some will deny it, but others have said so,” alleged the war vets leader.

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One Comment

  1. Ignorance is a bad thing when clever blacks lure people to a trap benefitting money for an illegality, and the benefactors’ are ghosts who cannot be identified after receiving cash but the receiver’s of stolen property becomes the victim. All victims should make claims to the sellers or barons in a small claims court or community chief’ s court to recoup their losses.

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