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Zimbabwe: President Mnangagwa’s top ally evicts 350 families in fresh farm grab

Resident Minister Ellen Gwaradzimba behaves in exactly the same manner as deposed former First Lady Grace Mugabe

Clayton Masekesa

MUTARE – Manicaland resident minister Ellen Gwaradzimba – a top ally of Zimbabwe’s President Emerson Mnangagwa, is trying to use her political influence to evict 350 families from a piece of land they had lived on for nearly three decades.

The families told this publication recently that they had lived at Zengeni Farm in Penhalonga for more than 30 years, while Gwaradzimba used to occupy a portion of the land. The Zanu (PF) official is now threatening to evict the families, as he is trying to take over all the whole farm.

The resident minister’s own land is neglected, with only dilapidated infrastructure. Apparently, Gwaradzimba ordered the eviction of the villagers soon after she was appointed Manicaland’s Provincial Affairs Minister, after the 2018 elections. 

The families recently received notices from the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, ordering them to vacate their homesteads. The letter in our possession – dated March 12, 2019 is directed to headman Onward Zengeni.

“You are hereby given seven days’ notice to vacate Zengeni Farm in Mutasa district in Manicaland province. You are violating section 3 of the gazetted land Act 20:28…,” reads the letter.

The villagers have, through Headman Zengeni, written to the MDC-Alliance’s Mutasa South MP, Regai Tsunga, asking for his intervention.

“We as affected families of Zengeni Village (350 families) and humbly request your urgent assistance concerning our plight. Recently we were issued with eviction papers without the due process of court dated 12 March to March 19, 2019. As the Member of Parliament for this constituency your help will be of great importance,” said the headman.

In an interview Tuesday, after he spent the Easter holidays trying to assist the affected families on some legal processes to try and stop the evictions, Tsunga said the issue was ‘disheartening.’

“It is disheartening that the villagers are being evicted as some of them have been staying at that land for a long time. We have young children who are going to school who are going to be affected by these evictions,” said the MP.

“I visited the minister (Gwaradzimba) regarding the matter and she was busy with Cyclone Idai issues, but she is aware that I am knocking on her doors.”

Gwaradzimba is not new to controversy. In February this year, she allegedly influenced the grabbing of Farfell Coffee farm in Chipinge.

Remembrance Gwaradzimba, her son, went to FarFell Coffee Estate accompanied by police and armed with an eviction notice issued by the ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Settlements.

The farm is being run by retired Swiss banker Richard Le Vieux, a reputable farmer who has been in the business of exporting coffee, avocados and macadamia nuts for the past 30 years.

The matter is still before the courts in Chipinge.

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