BY KENNETH NYANGANI
Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Ellen Gwaradzimba has been accused of using her political muscle to facilitate the eviction of over 350 families at Zengeni Farm in Mutasa district where she reportedly has interests.
The families recently received eviction notices from the Ministry of Lands to vacate the farm in the Penhalonga area.
Gwaradzimba also occupies part of the Zengeni Farm and is reportedly eyeing to extend her land by driving out the villagers who have been living at the farm for decades.
The villagers were surprised that Gwaradzimba intensified the process of evicting them soon after assuming her ministerial position.
Interestingly, the minister and the villagers have, for sometime, been involved in court battles over boundaries.
Last week, the villagers wrote to Mutasa South MP Regai Tsunga pleading for his intervention.
“We as affected families of Zengeni village (350 families) humbly request your urgent assistance concerning our plight as mentioned above. Our main concern is our chieftainship of which we have always applied to our district administrator , Ministry of Lands and to provincial administrator to no avail,” said headman Onward Zengeni in the letter.
“Recently we were issued with eviction papers without the due process of court . . . As the Member of Parliament for this constituency your help will be of great importance.”
Tsunga visited the troubled villagers on Tuesday to get first-hand information.
Hundreds of villagers gathered in ward 21 to appraise Tsunga on the issue.
Headman Zengeni said Gwaradzimba was planning to extend her farm while another man only identified as Mahachi wanted the remainder of the farm.
“This is not a laughing or political matter. We are aware that there are some few individuals who did not come today because they are saying that it’s a political matter,” he said
“Minister Gwaradzimba wants to extend her farm. There is one man called Mahachi who is also eyeing to grab the land. We have been told that we are likely to be evicted to Nyamukwakwa village near Honde Valley and the Mozambican border.”
Tsunga told the gathering that he requested to meet Gwaradzimba over the issue, but failed to talk to her as she reportedly had a tight schedule.
‘’I visited the minister (Gwaradzimba) and she was busy with Cyclone Idai issues, but she is aware that l am knocking at her door,” he said.
“But my argument in this matter is that there should be a greater consideration for the locals of the Zengeni clan and their subjects. There should also be a historical consideration noting that headman Zengeni and his people have always been occupying the land even during the pre-colonial era.”
He added: “My hope is that we have a considerate provincial minister who is level-headed and also has a right to get land and also cannot be faulted for being allocated land.”
Gwaradzimba’s mobile phone went unanswered yesterday.
A letter from the Ministry of Lands dated March 12, 2019 directed to headman Zengeni, gave villagers seven days to vacate Zengeni Farm claiming they were violating the Gazetted Land Act.