IN what could amount to psychological warfare Manzou Estate villagers’ days to vacate the farm in Mazowe are numbered as government plans to move in the “big five” animals onto the sanctuary by as early as next week.
Villagers were told of the plans this week by the National Parks and Wildlife Authority.
On Tuesday, the National Parks and Wildlife Authority toured Manzou with the aim of bringing the animals onto the farm, which First Lady Grace Mugabe is eyeing to set up a private wildlife sanctuary.
The team reportedly told villagers that they would be bringing the big five (elephants, lions, rhinos, leopards and buffaloes) as early as next week, despite a High Court order stopping the evictions.
“During their tour, the Nationals Parks team told us they will bring elephants to Manzou next week. This is to instil fear in us as we do not have anywhere to go. When the animals are brought in we will have no choice but to leave and it hurts that government has resorted to such crude measures,” said one of the villagers, Aspinas Makufa.
At least 200 families are being evicted from the farm to pave way for the establishment of a national park.
Environment, Climate and Water minister Saviour Kasukuwere confirmed animals would soon be brought to Manzou.
“The move is imminent and will be completed very soon which is why National Parks was touring the place,” he said.
However Kasukuwere could not be drawn into revealing when the animals would be moved to the farm.
Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs minister Martin Dinha said this week villagers had been offered alternative land at Lazy, Blagdon and Nyandirwa farms, but had resisted moving there.
But Gift Mutisi of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights dismissed Dinha’s claims.
“Villagers are willing to move if given valid offer letters for the places which government claims to have provided,” he said. “There have been no offer letters issued to villagers for alternative accommodation and there is nothing forthcoming from the ministry.”
Police last week demolished property at Manzou despite a court order made last year. The High Court this week granted a provisional order barring the eviction of the families at Manzou as directed by last year’s court order.