Evicted war vets ‘celebrate’ independence by roadside

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Matabeleland South war veterans’ leader Jabulani Phetshu Sibanda has rubbished Monday’s Independence Day celebrations claiming there was nothing to celebrate when their colleagues were stranded by the roadside following their eviction from Essexvale Estate last week.

Two former combatants of the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra), Edward Mangena and Malaki Mpofu, were evicted from Lot 32 and 33 of Essexvale Estate by the deputy sheriff on Tuesday last week following a High Court order compelling them to vacate the property.

They were dumped at a site along the Bulawayo-Beitbridge highway with their property and families.
The families were still by the roadside when NewsDay went to the site Monday afternoon.

Said Sibanda: “We are extremely angered by the latest development, and we are not going to celebrate Independence Day when some of our fellow men are living in the bush. What is there to celebrate? The whole of Matabeleland South is angry and we want an immediate solution.

“I was at the forefront of making sure that Mangena and Mpofu occupy the very same land where they are being evicted from. They have occupied that land for 10 years now and if they were illegal, why they were not evicted then?”

He also threatened to mobilise people and confront the province’s leadership to force them to resolve the matter urgently.

“We are going to mobilise everyone and approach the provincial leadership, including the governor Angeline Masuku herself, because we want this issue to be solved immediately,” he said.

Masuku is on record as saying the eviction was in line with a High Court order on the matter and her hands were tied.

Ironically, the affected former freedom fighters are the ones who had taken the matter to court but the judgment did not favour them.

War veterans in the area have accused Masuku of being insensitive, claiming she had twice blocked attempts to relocate the affected farmers to other farms.

Last Thursday, the families snubbed attempts by deputy chairperson for the provincial lands committee, Andrew Langa, who is also Zanu PF provincial chairman, to move their property from the site to the Zanu PF offices at Esigodini Centre.

Langa had claimed their continued stay at the roadside was an embarrassment to the party.