HomePoliticsSettlers evicted, homes torched

Settlers evicted, homes torched

Augustine Mukaro

THE Ibo in Nigeria say when a leopard wants to eat its young ones, it first accuses them of smelling like a goat. In Zimbabwe when Zanu PF wants to evict its supporters, it accuses them of i

llegally settling themselves. That was the fate of Porta Farm settlers.

Porta Farm, a squatter settlement of 14 years, was demolished last month because government wants to use the farm for sewerage disposal.

This week it was Inkomo Farm near Darwendale, where A1 resettled farmers had their homes set ablaze. They were forced to leave so that the farm can be reallocated to A2 farmers.

The squatters said five Nissan UD trucks full of soldiers and riot police raided the farm in the early hours of Tuesday and ordered everyone to leave before setting the makeshift homesteads on fire. Most of the homesteads were still smoldering on Wednesday.

When a Zimbabwe Independent news crew visited the farm on Wednesday afternoon it was informed the riot police and army had left around 1pm.

The families had been on the farm since 2000 when farm invasions started.

Scenes on the farm on Wednesday resembled a war zone, with the whole farm up in smoke as huts were burning.

Like refugees, the squatters could be seen carrying their belongings to the nearest highway to catch a lift back to wherever they originally came from. Some said they had nowhere to go.

An estimated 600 families have been rendered homeless as Zanu PF clears Inkomo Farm to create room for its top functionaries and hangers-on.

Peter Chikosi, one of the evicted new farmers, accused government of cheating and abusing landless peasants to occupy farms for the benefit of a selected few.

“I came here in the year 2000 just as the farm invasions started and spearheaded the eviction of the white farmer who used to own this property. I invested all I had on this property and now I am being kicked out with nothing,” Chikosi fumed.

“I feel cheated and abused. Government encouraged us to invade this farm. They even sent land officers to subdivide the farm for us. Around 600 families were given six-hectare plots and that is what we have been farming on over the past four years.”

An old woman who identified herself only as Mbuya Muchenje broke into tears as the Independent crew approached the shell of her proud homestead of four years.

“Government has killed me. Building this home has eaten all my energy and I won’t be in a position to start anything again. If government had told me that I won’t be settling here permanently, I wouldn’t have wasted my time,” said Muchenje.

She said police and soldiers sent to evict them were demanding offer letters from the settlers.

“Why didn’t government talk of those letters before calling for countrywide farm invasions? We just followed government orders.”

The evicted farmers who spoke to the Independent indicated that Inkomo Farm was earmarked for the resettlement of a selected group of people.

“Police are telling us that the farm is earmarked for A2 farmers with money.

“We are however trying to make representations to the highest office so that we can be allocated another farm or even retain these plots,” Chikosi said.

Inkomo Farm used to be owned by Jim Black and his sons and was ranged amongst the top beef producing farms in the country.

In the year 2000 Zanu PF, in what was seen as a desperate attempt to win the elections, called on landless peasants and war veterans to invade white-owned commercial farms.

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