THE government has indicated that it will evict more than 14 000 families who were resettled in Uswaushava Ward 16, Chiredzi North, to pave way for an irrigation project by a company owned by the ruling party called Development Trust of Zimbabwe (DTZ).
DTZ, which is one of the many companies which used to be owned by Zapu, but is now under the control of Zanu PF-owned Nuanetsi Ranch, and part of the farm was allocated to people, including Uswaushava area during the land reform programme. Nuanetsi is one of the biggest farms in the country with over 100 000 hectares.
Most of the families set to be evicted were resettled in the year 2000, with former Zapu leader John Nkomo visiting them in 2012 assuring them that no one will remove them since Zapu is the one which released part of its land for resettlement.
Sources within the government told The NewsHawks that as was the case with the Chilonga issue, the biggest target in Ward 16 is not irrigation but vast deposits of minerals, especially diamonds which were detected during a recent survey.
Last Friday, the Zanu PF leadership from Masvingo and Chiredzi had to abandon a meeting meant to announce the impending displacements after the community started singing while denouncing the leaders, accusing them of being corrupt and insensitive.
Chiredzi district development coordinator Lovemore Chisema told The NewsHawks that it is true that there are some developments earmarked for Uswaushava. He said planning and consultations are ongoing and there is nothing so far which shows people will be displaced except for a few.
“It is true that there is an irrigation project under DTZ which will be set in ward 16. Consultations and project planning are ongoing and, according to what l was told, only a few people will be moved during the re-prganisation,” said Chisema.
Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans Association chairperson for Chiredzi district Killer Makuni told The NewsHawks that the people were given the green light to stay by John Nkomo and from 2000 no one questioned their legality, only for the people to be told that they should move away in 2021. He said investors are allowed but they should consult and allow people to be part of the project without displacing them. He added that the ruling party leadership was lucky to leave the area on Friday without injuries because the community is angry.
“People were given power to stay by John Nkomo but it is surprising to note that more than 20 years later some people still have guts to come and tell the same people to leave. We went on to war for these people, treating them this way is not the right way. They should come clean, consult the people and include them in the project without any movement. The leadership was there last Friday but they failed to address the people who protested through singing” Makuni said.
“The issue is not about irrigation but the area is also rich in minerals and this is similar to what happened with Chilonga. What is the reason of wanting to evict people now looking at the period they stayed in that area. This is what is destroying our economy, some of our leaders are greedy and they do it collectively making it difficult for some of us to raise points” said a government official.
Efforts to get a comment from minister of State for Masvingo, who is also Zanu PF provincial chairperson, Ezra Chadzamira, were fruitless since he was not answering phone calls throughout the week.
Maxwell Dumela, one of the first people to stay in Uswaushava, told The NewsHawks that he is traumatised by the latest development since the area is now his only home. He said the move will be resisted if the people are not going to benefit from it.
On 13 August 2021 the community wrote a petition to the minister of Agriculture highlighting their grievances over the move. They demanded that they be included in the project and its planning should consider the current set up of their stands and fields.
The petition was signed by legislator for Masvingo North Roy Bhila, area councillor, war vets and over 100 village heads and community leaders.