via Evicted villagers demand land report | The Zimbabwean by Regerai Tututuku
Villagers, evicted for allegedly occupying black-owned farms, have accused lands and rural resettlement minister Douglas Mombeshora of sweeping under the carpet a land audit that could have exposed multiple ownership in the country.
This prompted Mombeshora to conduct a land audit in the area, but the results of that audit have not been released.
Tranos Chinhondo, one of the evicted villagers, claimed that the audit could not be made public because the minister wanted to protect his closest friends in the party. He believed it would bring to light people who had more than one farm, which is against the government policy.
“The minster instituted a land audit because we had raised concerns, but we are surprised that the contents of the audit have not been made public,” he said.
“We have to know who owns what and how they got that piece of land,” Chinhondo added. “We occupied these farms during the height of the farm invasions, but all of a sudden they are said to be owned by blacks. How did these blacks get them when we were the beneficiaries?”
Jane Mukuna said she regretted supporting Zanu (PF) because the very party she voted for had turned against her.
“We are Zanu (PF) supporters who invaded these farms long back, so we were surprised to be evicted. Right now, I am living with a relative because we were chased away by the police,” she said angrily.
“We had hoped that the audit would help us return to the farms, but it was not to be. When the minister talked about the land audit, we were very happy because we thought those who were using political power to push us out would be exposed, but nothing has happened several months after our eviction.”
Mombeshora last week said the report was yet to be released.
“There were hitches in coming up with the land audit report for Masvingo East commercial farming area and I am also yet to receive the report,” said Mombeshora.
“I am the one who instituted the audit report and, therefore, I should be accountable in anything regarding the Masvingo East land ownership saga,” he added.
Last year, police in riot gear raided several farms in Masvingo East, destroying homes and forcing villagers to flee.
The villagers had resisted eviction for years and the police had to engage in running battles as the villagers vowed to stay put. Some of those affected sought refuge in the mountains.
Several Zanu (PF) officials, including justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, have farms in the area.