HURUNGWE — Cash-strapped Hurungwe Rural District Council (HRDC) has introduced new by-laws, among them authorising them to seize stray livestock found at Magunje Growth Point.
The move has angered villagers from surrounding communal areas who accuse the local authority of seeking to steal their livestock to raise money.
The seizure and subsequent auctioning of the stray animals would be done in terms of section 16(a) of the HRDC Animal By-Laws. When NewsDay visited the area this week, stray cattle and goats could be seen feeding from uncollected garbage heaps at the business centre. The local authority this month started enforcement of the by-laws, amid stiff resistance by villagers who pledged non-compliance with the new legislation.
“Personally, I would confront council to get back my cattle or goats if they were impounded. This is not a city where one can enforce such rules. This is a rural set-up . . . it is ridiculous,” said Boman Mhanda, a villager.
HRDC chief executive officer Joram Moyo refused to comment, referring questions to administrator Karol Mutenga, who said the by-laws were a “necessary evil”, without elaborating.
As farmers start land preparation ahead of the summer cropping season, seizure of livestock by HRDC is likely to spark clashes with villagers who rely on cattle for draught power. Goats are also a prized possession and a sign of wealth in rural areas and dispossessing villagers would not be taken lightly.
Council would, after seizure, give a seven-day grace period for owners to reclaim their animals. The penalties could not be immediately established.