Clipsham Forced Land Eviction Takes Another Twist

Yesterday, 19 September 2020, community leaders within Clipsham convened a meeting with over 300 residents. The reason for the meeting was to hear the government’s position regarding the proposed eviction. Masvingo District development coordinator Mr Ray Hove was representing Masvingo Minister of state Ezra Chadzamira. Mr Ray Hove was booed and humiliated after announcing that the state is going to allocate 100 hectares of land to developers for Masvingo city expansion. Mr Hove did not finish his speech as residents interjected and started to sing revolutionary songs. Mr Hove was rescued and escorted to his car by local elders. Clipsham residents accused their member of parliament, Mr Ezra Chadzamira, who is also Masvingo state minister, of failing to protect them from developers popularly known as land barons.

Norman Richard owned Clipsham farm before the government took it through the fast track land reform program in the early 2000s. Clipsham residents interviewed by Masvingo Centre for Research, Advocacy and Development (MACRAD) say they settled in Clipsham after being given the green light by war veterans and ZANU PF leadership during that time. Some of the inhabitants of Clipsham later obtained land certificates and offer letters from the Ministry of lands, Agriculture, Water and rural resettlement. However, only a small fraction of the people in Clipsham have government offer letters. The rest have no offer letters. The majority, if not all of those without offer letters are being recognized by Masvingo Rural District Council. Masvingo rural district council has over the years been religiously collecting tax from all Clipsham residents. Most of the people in Clipsham survive on farming. Some have built permanent houses whilst others built makeshift homes. Residents say some identified persons whose details recently ‘trespasses’ into their land and pegged without their consent.

MACRAD submits that if at all, the government is to evict people without land certificates or offer letters; it should do so after obtaining a court order. Not to be forgotten is the fact that almost all Clipsham residents have been paying tax through Masvingo Rural District Council. Rural district councils are government agencies. It can therefore never be argued that those Clipsham residents without court orders are illegal settlers. Even if it is to be assumed that non-holders of land certificates are illegal settlers, MACRAD maintains the position that a court order must be obtained first before the people are evicted. Court processes give affected persons the opportunity to air out their views. Put differently, they afford citizens the right to be heard before a decision affecting them is made.

Source: Masvingo Centre for Research and Community Development