Human Rights

CRD condemns Gvt evictions for targeting small fish


The ongoing chaotic operation to remove people settled on state land is self-serving and meant to hide the real culprits of land grabs in Zimbabwe while releasing vast tracts of land back to the state, an NGO has said.

The Center for Research and Development (CRD) said the ongoing operation is nothing but a façade meant to cover the real land barons.

The statement come after the organisation conducted investigations in Midlands when 12 accused of illegally occupying state land in Manhize area appeared at the Magistrate Court in Mvuma.

The villagers denied the accusations levelled against them before the prosecuting authority despite having spent the night in police cells

 CRD said seven women with infants (1 month,1 year and 3 months olds) were whisked from Mushenjere Village of Inhoek Farm in Manhize by four state security agencies and driven to Mvuma police station where they were detained overnight.

The 12 were accused of illegally occupying state land in their village.

“The villagers claimed that they were allocated land by ZANU PF through their former councillor and then District Party Chairman, Raphael Mapete in 2016.

“Through this ZANU PF structure, a seven-member committee was chosen to allocate each person 50 x 50 metres of land in areas set aside for pastures.

“The accused persons are children of permit holders, whose parents got land from the government in 1984, a few years after Zimbabwe attained independence in 1980” CRD said in a statement.

 CRD added that villagers now suspect that former ZANU PF councillor Mapete, Eria Jemwa who wanted to be the village head and Chinese authorities at Dinson Mine were behind the arrests.

“According to our sources Dinson had to build houses for 14 families that were relocated to a nearby Rusununguko Farm in 2022.

“These families were also children of permit holders who had occupied unclaimed land (mumagada) in their village.

“Dinson feared another cost if 32 families now living on this land were not disbanded by the “operation”, sources claimed.

“Some villagers questioned why the Chinese had so much interest in having those families removed when those settlements were outside their Iron and Steel plant,” reads part of the statement.

CRD added that more villagers were summoned by the police for interrogation, 32 families from Mushenjere Village have been living on unclaimed land since the beginning of 2016.

“Parents of 32 families facing evictions from state land at Manhize were allocated land under the initial land reform programme that was intended to reduce overcrowding and poverty in communal areas.

“Having lived on Inhoek Farm for 40 years, these permit holders have seen their children grow into adults.

“These children also now require land to secure livelihoods for their own families.

“However, land permits issued by the government to their parents prohibit them from constructing any building on land allocated for cultivation,” CRD said.

In 2021 a Chinese (DISCO) Dinson Iron and Steel Mining Company was given a special mining grant certificate (SG7126) in March 2021 by the government to explore and mine iron ore along the Mwanesi range.

In 2022 the Manhize steel plant was awarded national project status by the government to speed up its mining developments in the area.

In June 2023 the company was officially awarded an open-ended lease by the government to mine iron ore and set up a US$1.5 billion steel plant on 12 270 hectares of land in Manhize farming communities of Mashonaland East and Midlands Provinces.

“The government exploited colonial and unjust mining law aided by an unsecured multiple land tenure system to grant Dinson exclusive mining rights over farming land in Manhize.

“Despite Zimbabwe adopting a progressive constitution in 2013 that recognizes fundamental human rights and freedoms of citizens, the government has maintained regressive laws such as the Communal Lands Act 20:04 formerly Tribal Trust Lands and the 1965 Mines and Minerals Act.

“These laws do not respect the rights of traditional communities where land has been prospected for mining or set aside for any public purpose,” CRD said.

CRD raised concern that the permit and lease land tenure system applicable to agricultural landholders vest all powers in the state.

At least 1 170 hectares of farming land have been taken from plot holders by the Chinese steel-making concern in Mushenjere Village leaving farmers without sources of livelihood since in 2021.

The 32 families now facing eviction from state land in Mushenjere village are set to return to where they came from, despite the areas being congested. 

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