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Governor Machaya in land spat

MIDLANDS governor Jason Machaya hired thugs and earthmoving equipment to raze down houses of Mabhula Resettlement Scheme in peri-urban Zvishavane.

MIDLANDS provincial governor Jason Machaya has hired a group of thugs and earthmoving equipment to raze down houses of Mabhula Resettlement Scheme residents in peri-urban Zvishavane to forcibly evict them and sell their residential stands, court papers allege.

Report by Everson Mushava

According to the court papers filed at the High Court on Friday by the villagers’ lawyer Norman Mugiya, Machaya wants to evict the 19 families who were legally resettled by government under Section 6 of the Rural Land Act in 1983 and dump them at his farm in Shurugwi.

The villagers claim they have been told they would not be compensated for their structures and Machaya had ordered them to sell their livestock to enable them build temporary shelter on a farm he was offered by government.

Machaya allegedly connived with the lands officer for Midlands, only identified in court papers as Mutemereri, Midlands provincial and Zvishavane district administrators and Chief Masunda. In April, they slashed the residents’ crops to force them out of the farm.

On Thursday last week, Machaya and his team reportedly besieged the farm “in a convoy of vehicles and hired thugs and force-marched the applicants to an assembly point where they threatened to burn their homes” if they refused to leave the farm.

Machaya allegedly deployed a militia group to force the villagers to vacate the farm and ordered them to sell cattle, donkeys, sheep and goats for them to raise money to construct temporary structures. “The first respondent (Machaya) started harassing applicants and demanding that they sell their beasts for $200 per beast, $20 per goat and sheep, and $30 for each donkey,” claimed David Manzungu, chairman of the resettlement scheme, in his founding affidavit.

“The militia took a book to record all those who would refuse so that come Sunday (yesterday) their homes would be destroyed. “I can confirm that the bulldozers and earthmoving machines are on site right now to demolish our homes on Sunday whether or not we are still there.”

This is despite a court challenge against Machaya’s decision filed at the High Court in April.

Machaya, who is reported to have sold some stands without the knowledge of the villagers, had allegedly disregarded the court process, saying he was not bound by the courts.

“The first respondent (Machaya) actually boasted that Zimbabwe was not like South Africa where the courts control the people saying in Zimbabwe, it is the people who control the courts and he threw away our lawyers’ papers,” Manzungu said.

Lands minister Herbert Murerwa is cited as the sixth respondent.