SEVERAL thousandfamilies left homeless when soldiers and police burnt their settlements on Little England, Inkomo and other surrounding farms are living in squalor, the Zimbabwe Independent
A visit to the farms on Tuesday revealed that the families who were left in the open along the Harare-Chinhoyi highway for over two weeks after their evictions, had been moved into tobacco barns.
Stephen Chasiya, whose property has been dumped in one of the barns at Sodibury farm, said government vehicles ferried the families and their belongings from the highway to tobacco barns at the nearest farm.
“Government realised that donors and people outside Zimbabwe were coming to take pictures of us every day,” Chasiya said.
“Confusion in the land reform was being exposed so government decided to hide us here. The truth is that conditions in here are more deplorable than in the open. You can hardly breathe because of the decayed tobacco.”
Some of the farmers who could not get space in the barns have started moving back to their destroyed properties.
The High Court last week ruled that the evicted farmers should return to their pieces of land until government found them alternative land.
Takaruza Nhaiwa, one of the farmers who was putting a plastic roof on the remains of his gutted hut, said the majority of the farmers won’t produce anything this season even if they obey the High Court order.
“There is no way we can work in the fields before we have somewhere reasonable to stay in,” Nhaiwa said. “We can’t continue staying in the open during the wet season.”
There are mixed feelings among the farmers on whether to start planting or not following the first rains this week.
“To make matters worse, most of us do not have draught power to prepare the land. Farmers who had brought their cattle to the new settlements have either taken them back or lost their animals two weeks ago when police and soldiers chased us off,” Nhaiwa said.
Reports reaching the Independent from across the country where government evicted thousands of black families from the farms they occupied four years ago show that they are slowly returning to their properties in response to the High Court ruling.Government has justified the eviction of newly resettled farmers on the grounds that they had illegally settled themselves.
The families occupied the farms in 2000 with the encouragement of President Robert Mugabe and his government who at the time defended the actions as a “peaceful demonstration” of land hunger.
Government never indicated to the invading peasants that it was going to evict them from the farms. Instead it promised that land experts would be sent to properly plan settlements on the farms.
New farmers from Banket, Darwendale, Karoi and Chinhoyi in Mashonaland West province and in Lower Gweru in Midlands who were evicted have accused the government of using them during the farm invasions to pave way for Zanu PF and government officials.