By Bulawayo Correspondent
SCORES of villagers in the Chamagora farming area in the Midlands province are living in the open after armed soldiers and police officers burnt and destroyed their homes over accusations they were staying in the area illegally.
In interviews with newzimbabwe.com, the villagers however maintained that their stay was legal since they were allocated the land by traditional leaders and Zanu PF officials.
Some of the villagers also told this publication during a visit on Monday that they have stayed in the area for almost 15 years.
Several homesteads in Sibusiso, one of the disputed areas along the Kwekwe /Gokwe road have been burnt and people are sleeping in the open with their livestock straying onto the road.
“I have been staying on this land with my family for the past 15 years. All along, we have been supporting and voting for Zanu PF.
“We are really surprised that the party which we have been supporting for all these years is now sending soldiers to beat us. Where do they expect us to go?” woman who identified herself as Amai Natasha fumed.
Another villager, who also refused to be named for fear of victimisation said he and his family have been sleeping in the open since last week Thursday when the evictions started.
“I have been sleeping in the open despite the rain since last Thursday, when soldiers and police officers destroyed my homestead.
“My children are no longer going to school and they have been sleeping in the open. The soldiers are saying I should go back to where I come from but where can I go at this age. I cannot start a new homestead,” said the 69 year old villager.
The people who invaded the area came from different parts of the country at different times.
When reached for comment, the Minister of State for Midlands’s province, Larry Mavhima said cabinet recently decided to evict all illegal settlers on state owned land.
Mavhima said despite this Cabinet’s resolution, the government has decided to halt the Chamagora evictions pending the vetting of the settlers.
“Government is seized with Chamagora issue. We are currently vetting the settlers with a view of re-locating some of the settlers to their places of origins while those who do not have anywhere to go will be assisted to find a suitable place,” said Mavhima.