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Shabanie farmers face eviction


FORMER Shabanie Mine workers who established a sugarcane plantation next to the Zesa power station in Zvishavane face eviction as the mine’s authorities have indicated that they have given the land to the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) for an unnamed project.



The sugarcane farmers said Shabanie Mine management had already informed them that they would be evicted soon after the mine secured a cash-income project with Unicef.

One of the affected farmers, Tomupeyi Hove, said it was worrying that the same company that laid them off was again inflicting more pain on them by destroying a project that had benefited more than 100 former employees and their families.

“We were approached by some mine officials alerting us that we were illegally farming on the mine’s land and they had made a deal with Unicef to take over the land for an unknown reason,” Hove said.

Another farmer Saidi Chinyoka said their massive development had attracted Shabanie Mine authorities who for years had neglected the land reserving it as a waste dump.

“They (Shabanie) had to wait for us to develop the arid land for them to observe that the land is worthy to be utilised for investment with other stakeholders. If they have a project in mind, definitely we will be in control,” Chinyoka said.

Zvishavane senator Lilian Timveos has vowed to defend the farmers by preventing their eviction saying the move would destroy people’s livelihoods.

“I as a senator together with local councillors will fight with these farmers against such greed shown by the mine authorities.” she said.

“They are forgetting that the key reason for this plantation is that the mine shut down. These people have suffered enough and the only way to evict them is to reopen the mine and give each worker his/her outstanding dues.

“At the same time, all these farmers must be compensated for all their labour and investments they made in forming this plantation,” Timveos said.

Zvishavane Town Council chairperson Esau Dube Gwatipedza said they were going to assess the situation and find which project would benefit workers most before any evictions were made.

“I will talk with all parties involved and see which project benefits people the most,” he said.

“But our major thrust is to make sure that the larger chunk of the workers benefit for we do not want a case where workers are left to suffer again. Shabanie Mine curator Arafat Gwalazimba could not be reached for comment as his phone was unreachable.

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