By Brenna Matendere
A MASVINGO-BASED pressure group has raised a red flag over government-backed evictions of desperate villagers in the province, saying the orders flout efforts to slow down the devastating effects of COVID-19.
Masvingo Centre for Research Advocacy and Development (MACRAD) yesterday said it noted with great concern that 56 households, constituting over 300 people, had been living under a tree in Gutsaruzhinji village, ward 23 in Chiredzi North constituency since July 10, 2020.
“The 56 households were forcibly evicted from their homes while their houses, crops and property were destroyed and burnt during the ongoing Nyangambe land conflict,” the lobby group said in a statement.
“The evictees have spent more than two months sleeping on an open space and they are surviving on sugarcane after their homes and food was destroyed.”
Chiredzi North MP Roy Bhila (Zanu PF) and ward 23 councillor Douglas Mutowo were accused by the pressure group of causing the evictions which exposed 56 vulnerable households to greater risk of infection as they are now living in crowded and unsanitary conditions under a tree along the Mkwasine irrigation canal.
The evicted people do not have a financial safety net, while many had already lost their source of livelihood due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
MACRAD has since referred the matter to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, Heal Zimbabwe Trust and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
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“MACRAD urges the government to declare an end to all evictions until the end of the COVID 19 pandemic.
“MACRAD also urged the government to urgently intervene while the police should investigate the human rights violations and bring to book the culprits,” the organisation reiterated. Recently, Heart and Soul TV, owned by Alpha Media Holdings, facilitated for the villagers to get grocery worth $150 000 from a well-wisher.