NDLOVU villagers, on the outskirts of Victoria Falls, have engaged lawyers to stop moves to relocate them to an unknown destination and pave way for the construction of a satellite town.
A shadowy Gushungo Robert Mugabe housing co-operative last year began pegging new housing stands at homesteads, kraals and communal farms belonging to hundreds of villagers in Kachechete ward under Ndlovu village.
The housing co-operative was allocated land at the village by their Lukosi Rural District Council and has reportedly sold stands to thousands of home-seekers, a development that will result in the eviction of the villagers.
Southern Eye heard that the villagers who have been staying in that area for decades would be relocated to a thick forest to pave way for the development of their village into an urban setting.
However, villagers are against plans to relocate them from the area and instead argue that the Gushungo housing co-operative should be allocated land in the thick forest.
Abammeli Human Rights Lawyers’ Network co-ordinator Tineyi Mukwewa confirmed that the organisation was representing villagers to fight off plans to forcibly relocate them.
“The villagers have approached us for legal representation to stop the relocations, which violate their rights,” he said.
“We have gone there to take instructions from them.
“There is something shady going on, as villagers have not been informed in writing as to what would happen to them; whether they would be relocated or not and to where and also as to whether there will be any compensation.”
Bulawayo Agenda director Mmeli Dube said there was a worrying trend, where communal land belonging to villagers was being taken over by local authorities under the guise of urban development.
“Those people have stayed there for decades and should be left to live in peace,” he said.
“They should not be arm twisted by some land barons to vacate their land.
“We are against the violent disruptions of villagers’ lives through a pseudo urban development programme.
“They should be left in peace until they are given alternative land, where there are social amenities like schools, clinics and not to be relocated to the bush, where there are wild animals.”
Bulawayo Agenda has been assisting villagers to fight off the relocations.
Just recently, Binga villagers approached the High Court seeking an order compelling Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo and the Binga Rural District Council to stop their plan of displacing more than 1 000 villagers from Siansundu village, to pave way for an urban settlement.