Bell tolls for Porta squatters

Augustine Mukaro

GOVERNMENT last week deployed police and the army to compile a list of Porta Farm squatters in preparation for eviction in the next fortnight.



rial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>The move follows Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo’s visit to the farm a fortnight ago. Chombo told over 10 000 squatters at Porta to wind up their operations in preparation for relocation by August 15.


Government claims the area needs to be cleared to make way for the construction of a sewerage plant. The squatters claim the government wants to give the farm to a senior Zanu PF politician.


Residents of Porta this week told the Zimbabwe Independent that Local Government officials who visited the camp were escorted by the army and police, fearing that the squatters might be violent.


“We were told that we would be relocated to acquired farms in Nyabira,” one resident said. “We are hearing that government vehicles and the army will be used to transport us to the farm.”


The registration was completed last Wednesday. Two farms in Nyabira have been earmarked for the squatters.


The residents however lambasted government’s intention to move them, saying it would worsen their situation.


“The majority of us have been employed in businesses around Lake Chivero. The unemployed ones were surviving on fishing, so moving us will be taking away our life-line.”


Residents of Porta Farm have been accused of massive poaching on Lake Chivero and Lake Manyame.


Porta Farm squatter camp was created in 1991 when government demolished a squatter camp in Mbare ahead of Queen Elizabeth’s visit to the country.


Over the past four years several illegal settlements have sprouted in the peri-urban areas. The settlements which came up as a result of farm invasions include Hopley Estates along Highfield-Chitungwiza road, Chenjerai Hunzvi Housing Scheme along Seke Road and White Cliff along Bulawayo Road.