VILLAGERS surrounding Tsholotsho business centre face eviction to pave way for the expansion of the centre, as it upgrades to town status, Southern Eye has established.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
Five villages — Mvudlana, Mbute, Madona, Lupindi and Manzimahle — in Tsholotsho ward 13 were reportedly set to be affected by the expansion drive, but villagers have vowed to resist the eviction claiming they were not consulted.
Tsholotsho Rural District Council (RDC) has reportedly started pegging housing stands on communal land, while the affected villagers have approached Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) to block the move.
“Our clients advise us that the RDC is in the process of demarcating land that traditionally belongs to the community without any prior consultations with them. They fear that the new development may see them being removed from their land without any due process,” the ZLHR said in a letter dated February 2, 2016 and addressed to Tsholotsho RDC.
“We, therefore, request a meeting with your good office so that we can have access to the relevant information that may assist us in advising our clients and possibly resolving the matter amicable. We therefore propose a meeting at a date and time that is suitable to your office.”
Headman Charles Mazibisa told Southern Eye, during a visit to Tsholotsho last week, that their local authority begun pegging stands as part of the business centre’s expansion drive late last year.
“We were not consulted whatsoever. We have seen RDC staff pegging housing stands and demarcating our land. There has been no communication as to how we will be compensated, or where we will be relocated to and this is the reason why had to seek assistance from human rights lawyers,” he said.
In December, the villagers also appealed to Provincial Affairs minister, Cain Mathema in a bid to stop the evictions.
In a letter to Mathema dated December 3, 2013, the villagers said: “We appeal to your office for immediate intervention in this move by council. We shall be grateful if your intervention is prompt in this case as these people are busy demarcating stands for plots, yet the community is suffering.”
Last month, the villagers petitioned council over the issue, but the matter was ignored, hence, the move to seek legal recourse.
Part of the petition read: “In this regard, it is obvious that the council of Tsholotsho has no regard for the mentioned communities’ plight save to advance their personal egos of dishing out housing stands in order to benefit their own ends at the expense of the communities concerned. We do, hereby, register our strongest opposition to their moves. We are prepared to fight the council action through the courts if council is not prepared to reverse the action at once.”
Council chairperson, Alois Ndebele and Mathema were unreachable for comment yesterday.