700k people forcibly evicted since 2000 — Survey

By Tatenda Chitagu

AT least 737 160 people across the country had their housing and land rights violated after being forcibly evicted without compensation since the launch of the land reform programme in 2000, a survey by the Zimbabwe People’s Land Rights Movement (ZPLRM) has revealed.

The organisation said the number of forced evictions in the country was likely to rise further after the government recently announced it would return land to white former commercial farmers who were kicked out of their farms which were covered under trade agreements.

ZPLRM national coordinator Hillary Zhou said the figure could be more as some of the cases may have gone unreported for fear of reprisals.

“There have been numerous violations from dispossession like gender-based violations, destruction, lack of compensation, among others which have gone unreported because of fear that makes victims fail to speak out,” he said.

Zhou said the number of displaced people was likely to rise after the government offered to compensate and return land to some white former commercial farmers whose farms were seized under government’s chaotic land reform programme.

“The figure is likely to rise if the decision by the government to kick out resettled black farmers is anything to go by. We are likely to see a rise in evictions as this time some farm invaders of BIPPA (Bilateral Investment Promotion Agreement) farms will be ejected. However, most have nowhere to go since they had built permanent structures after moving from their original homes and this will create a habitat crisis,” he said.

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