Gutsaruzhinji Villagers In Chiredzi North Are More Vulnerable To Losing Their Land Due To The Ongoing Land Conflict

Since 11 June 2020, 56 families are living under a tree, a woman and one year child are missing, two women gave birth and a number of people are still nursing injuries. Today marks 96 days since these people reported the matter to Mkwasine Police station but no investigations and arrests were made. Police at Mkwasine are arguing that they did not have transport and fuel to visit the victims who reside 4 kilometers away from the police station.

Surprisingly, on the 11th of September 2020, Mkwasine Police station member in Charge, Samson Botso and Admore Machenga, summoned 4 Gutsaruzhinji leaders to Mkwasine station accusing them for raping the wife of Davison Chikambure. Davison Chikambure is one of the sons of Nyangambe who violently evicted the villagers, destroying their houses, crops, livestocks and leaving many injured. Davison Chikambure was never arrested despite the matter being reported to Mkwasine Police Station. The four accused for rape are Gutsaruzhinji Chairman, Robert Muzongomerwa, Simbarashe Mugwara, Farai Maseke, and Haurovi Manzunza. The four will be going to appear in court by the way of summons. It seems as the rape case reported is a strategy to frustrate the Gutsaruzhinji leaders to leave their land.

Masvingo Centre for Research Advocacy and Development is edging the Chiredzi District Coordinator, Mr Chisema, to look on the issue rather than remaining silent as the health and safety of over 300 people is at risk, a threat to their life. Chiredzi North legislator Roy Bhila, ward 23 Councillor Duglas Mutowo and businessman Mabhiza are to be blamed and they should be brought to book as they are fuelling the conflict. The three are funding and providing resources to the sons of Nyangambe so that they continue to violently evict these families. Mkwasine Police Station is failing to investigate the missing women and a child and the human abuses take place during the on-going land conflict as the police officers were promised 5 hectares each for growing sugarcane. The area is next to Mkwasine irrigation canal hence the ruling party through Chiredzi North MP Roy Bhila need to convert the area into A2 sugarcane farmers. The MP Roy Bhila had directed staff at Nyangambe clinic not to attend to these families until they leave the area.

MACRAD strongly condemned this blatant violation of the constitution and international humanitarian law, which is even more egregious during the COVID-19 pandemic. We urge all parties to the conflict to resolve the dispute in a peaceful manner. Hundreds of women and children are negatively affected and this impedes efforts to implement basic virus prevention measures, such as hand-washing, social distancing, masks etc. MACRAD had established a peace committee in Gutsaruzhinji, capacitating the victims on land, property, human rights, and conflict resolution strategies. MACRAD had referred the matter to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and Zimbabwe Human Rights Lawyers. 

Source: Masvingo Centre for Research and Community Development (MACRAD)

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