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MPs condemn mass evictions



MEMBERS of the National Assembly have questioned the rationale behind the mass evictions of settlers by the government that are underway countrywide.


The debate was sparked after video footage of villagers being evicted from their ancestral homes in the Mushandike area of Masvingo went viral.

Midlands proportional representative MP for Zanu PF, Tsitsi Zhou, raised a point of national interest in Tuesday’s sitting, urging the government to be empathetic in dealing with illegal settlers.

“I rise to raise a point of national interest that since 2004 and before, we have been witnessing illegal allocation of land without following the proper allocation channels. The government had taken a position to first identify land to allocate the illegal settlers in communal, resettlement and urban areas. We need to appreciate the population growth and government should treat illegal settlers the same way, whether they are in urban or communal areas. Of course, with empathy to achieve the desired results. I thank you,” said Zhou.

“There are evictions that are going on around the country. People are being arrested and taken to courts because they are settled illegally in resettlement and communal areas.”
Asked by the Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda whether there was anything wrong with removing people who settled illegally, Zhou responded by saying the manner in which evictions are being effected contravenes the rights of the people and that the government should find alternative land for the affected.

“I would like to believe that people have got a right to shelter. There is population growth since the land reform programme and rural to urban migration. While we appreciate this, people are being resettled illegally. They are allocating land to each other through the village heads, councillors and all. Government had taken a position to say we need to look for land to re-allocate properly using the proper allocation channels before people are evicted,” Zhou said.

Mudenda responded, saying there was nothing wrong with the eviction of people who illegally settled on land they do not own.

“Well, that may be a matter of national interest. I think you need to ask a question tomorrow. That will suggest what you are observing. There is no way you can stop the Executive from evicting people who have illegally settled themselves,” said Mudenda.

According to the 2022 census report, the population of Zimbabwe has grown by 16% from 13 million in 2012 to 15 million in 2022 and the majority of the population is in rural areas.
Contributing to the debate, legislator Maxwell Mavhunga said the timing of the mass evictions was ill-thought-out as it exposes the evicted people to diseases during this rainy season.

“My point of national interest was going to ride on what the honourable member said in respect to the mass evictions that are taking place. I was coming from an angle where the enforcement is not really the issue but the timing of the enforcement. It is during the rainy season and people have nowhere to go. Secondly, we are in a pandemic where there is cholera and people are being displaced at this particular time,” Mavhunga said.

She added that apart from being exposed to diseases, the evicted people stand to lose their lifetime assets.

“Lastly, we have people on farms who are being evicted when they had planted their crops and they are told to leave within seven days. It is my submission that this issue is one that has to be looked into without necessarily hindering the Executive from enforcing the law,” Mavhunga said.

The evictions and demolitions evoke memories of Operation Murambatsvina of 2005 when hundreds of thousands were left homeless after their housing structures were demolished by the government.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Republic Police has released a statement saying that since the beginning of “Operation No to Land Barons and Illegal Settlement on Land’”, they have arrested a total of 3 775 suspects, with 985 of them convicted.

In Masvingo province alone, 28 people were arrested in the Tokwane Ngundu Resettlement for illegally settling on grazing lands without lawful authority.

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