Police officers burn ex-farm workers homes to force them to work on resettled farms
September 22, 2003
Zimbabwe Republic Police officers, and Zanu-Pf youths from Tengwe, burned houses of ex-farm workers, and destroyed valuable property worth hundreds of thousands of dollars on the 13th and 16th of September, 2003 at Mazhaka 1, 2, and 3.
About 300 families of ex-farm workers who were evicted from Zinyewe, Mudiki, Wilko, Tengwe, Chitonga, Horizon, Bonanza, Meadow, Garuwa, Magonera, and Oldonyo farms, are now living at Mazhaka 1, 2, and 3 where they resettled themselves in 2000.
On the 13th of September at 12p.m., six police officers from Tengwe, under the leadership of Zanu-Pf Youth Chairman Kasengu, set all the houses on fire, destroying everything in sight. After this incident, the Zanu-pf youth promised to destroy the remaining property in Mazhaka areas 2 and 3, which they later did on the 16th of September. Forty houses were burned on the second day, and the ex-farm workers are living in the open and have nowhere to go. The Zanu-Pf youths, and the police, threatened to do more harm if the ex-farm workers had not vacated their homes by the 17th of September. The violent attacks were selectively being exerted on the ex-farm workers, although there are so many people living in this same area, known as the game reserve. Villages belonging to Chizhanje, Chikwenhere, Rusere, the Zanu-Pf councillor, and Nenguke families have been spared.
These violent clashes started because of disputes between some Zanu-pf officials and the ex-farm workers, with the latter being accused of illegally resettling themselves in the Mazhaka area in 2000. Although the victims are accused of supporting MDC, the main reason for all of this is that Zanu-Pf members and new settlers in the area want to deprive the ex-farm workers pieces of land they got after their former employers lost farms during the farm invasions which started in 2000. The Zanu-pf officials want to create an environment that would force the ex-farm workers into working for the new settlers, who are abusive and pay as little as $ 3,500 per month. The evicted farmers were growing tobacco on these farms, which the settlers are failing to do because they lack the experience and expertise.
The latest raids and destruction of property were conducted with the Karoi District Administrators approval. During all these raids, the Zanu-Pf youth were using a lorry marked Karoi Rural District Council. Some Zanu-pf members who wanted to get advice approached the DA, and they were given the green light to evict the ex-farm workers from Mazhaka, alleging that the ex-farm workers resettled themselves in an area meant for game reserve. Sometime in August, the Member of Parliament for the area, Cde Marumahoko, addressed a rally at Madziyo were he indicated that the ex-farm workers were supposed to be evicted from the Mazhaka areas 1, 2, and 3. Another meeting was held at Tengwe golf club on the 10th of September, and the Zanu-pf settlers agreed to evict the ex-farm workers.
The farm invasions, which started in year 2000, have been characterised with brutal murders, loss of property, and evictions, which have reduced Zimbabwe to a basket-less nation. The controversial land reform program has been condemned internationally because of the style Zanu-pf is using. It is not working, and it is causing massive suffering to an ignored group of ex-farm workers countrywide. Many people in Zimbabwe, including the white farmers, have suffered as a result of the farm invasions, but the ex-farm workers have suffered more than anyone else. The sad story is that the majority of ex-farm workers are of foreign origin, being Malawians or Mozambiqeans, and have never known any other home except the farms they call home.
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