OVER 100 families being ejected from Arnold Farm in Mazowe at the First Lady, Grace’s Mugabe’s instigation have turned to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) seeking the regional bloc’s intervention into the plight.
This comes after police have ignored court orders barring them from evicting the farm occupants while the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission has also claimed government frustration into its recent attempts to probe the abuses.
Last week anti-riot police were deployed to burn down homes in the area with Grace’s name featuring prominently into the widely-condemned action.
Grace, owner of an elite orphanage centre at a neighbouring farm, is linked to a spirited attempt to grab the property in order to extend her business empire through placing wildlife on the land.
With local solutions evidently becoming fruitless, the villagers have found SADC a possible port of call.
Innocent Dube, the displaced villagers’ representative told NewZimbabwe.com in Mazowe on Wednesday that they have since attempted to raise SADC’s attention to the land row.
“It was not easy for us to hand over our petition to SADC because of the absence of Swaziland’s embassy here in Zimbabwe,” Dube said of the current SADC chair.
“Initially, we approached the South African embassy which referred us to Botswana embassy saying Botswana was the SADC secretariat, which again referred us back to the South African embassy saying that they were the ones representing Swaziland here in Zimbabwe.
“They finally received our petition and took down our contact details before they promised to get back to us.”
The villagers being displaced were settled on the farm during the onset of Zimbabwe’s controversial land reform programme which displaced more than 4,000 former white land owners at the turn of the millennium.
Seventeen years latter, the majority Zanu PF supporters and former liberation war collaborators now find themselves suffering the same misfortune experienced by the former land owners.
The chaotic black farm invasions which were accompanied by massive looting, killings of a white farmers and opposition followers, were led by war veterans with tacit government approval.
In the petition, Dube said, villagers pointed out to SADC that “we were used by President Mugabe”.
Dube said Mugabe took them for “earth moving machines” which are used to construct roads and when the roads are complete, the heavy-duty machines are then forbidden from using the same roads they created with fears they will damage them.