ABOUT 300 Zanu PF supporters, who had invaded several black-owned farms in Masvingo East near Masvingo city, have been left homeless after their makeshift houses were torched by police in an ongoing blitz that started last Friday.
Truckloads of armed police details in anti-riot gear were spotted making several trips to the farms since Friday, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.
The invaders had moved onto Salemore, Sundowns, Chevden, Arksden, Menabilly, Doornfontein, Makwari, Kemmington, Vlacksfontein and Nhenga farms, about 45km along Masvingo-Mutare Road, after accusing fellow black farmers of under-utilising the land and being fronts for whites.
This is the second time in two years that the defiant invaders had their structures set ablaze by the police.
A self-styled war veteran, Ruben Chikono, has been charged with inciting the farm invasions and the matter is still before the courts.
The affected villagers, who claimed to be war veterans, said the police asked them to remove their belongings before setting their structures ablaze.
The families, most of whose children no longer go to school, vowed to stay put, saying they had nowhere else to go.
They claimed to have voted for Zanu PF and could, therefore, not be treated in such a manner just a year after the party’s resounding election victory.
“Even if they (police) burn our homes, we are not going anywhere,” Marian Mahuswa, a widow who claimed to have relocated from Zaka under Chief Nyakunhuwa, said.
“We have nowhere to go after leaving our original homes in 2001. I have no option, I came here because I had no land to till.”
Some of the farm invaders, whose belongings were strewn around, said they were setting up a temporary shelter with fellow evictees.
They have been sleeping in the open since last Friday.
“We are exposed to the weather,” Jairos Chikomo, who had just been evicted, said as he struggled to hold back his tears.
“My child has stopped going to school because I am afraid he will come back and find me displaced or arrested.
“Our livestock has strayed because of these disturbances.”
Another evictee, Kuitei Jerera, said armed police demolished their structures while they watched helplessly.
“I don’t know whether we are still in Zimbabwe or not,” he said.
“They (police) came with guns and ordered us out and threw out our belongings.
“I am now old and I cannot go back to the hilly and rocky area of Bikita where I came from.”
Acting Masvingo provincial police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Kudakwashe Dhewa referred all questions to national police spokesperson Charity Charamba who did not answer her mobile phone.
Masvingo provincial administrator Felix Chikovo, who is also the provincial lands committee chairman, could not be reached for a comment yesterday.
Chikovo is on record as saying the government will conduct a land audit to determine whether beneficiaries of the land reform were utilising the farms.
A total of 5 000 people are on the land waiting list, amid concern that the province had run out of land for resettlement.