Masvingo Centre for Research Advocacy and Development (MACRAD) yesterday 16 December 2020 handed over food hampers to 52 homeless Gutsaruzhinji families in Chiredzi North. Livestock’s, houses, food was burnt down during the ongoing land conflict in Nyangambe. Since 11 July the families are crowded under a tree with nowhere to go. The Nyangambe family is accusing Gutsaruzhinji C residents for farming and resides on their land, reserved for grazing purposes. The evictees have spent more than four months sleeping on an open space and they are surviving on sugarcane from Mkwasine estate. Ward 23 councillor Douglas is one of the accused persons who came on the 11 July destroying homes of these families. The evicted families do not have a financial safety net, while many had already lost their source of livelihood due to the COVID-19 pandemic. MACRAD has since referred the matter to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Land commission. Currently the families have no access to health and education. Three women have already given birth without accessing a health centre.
The Gutsaruzhinji C villagers had won the matter before the courts last month but the Nyangambe families are still coming in numbers farming and instill fear to the vulnerable Gutsaruzhinji villagers. The Nyangambe villagers are breaching the high court order, which stops them from farming the land. Gustaruzhinji villagers reported the matter to Mkwasine police station but the police argued that they are running short of manpower and fuel to attend the matter. The Gutsaruzhinji villagers feel that the police are neglecting them and are in favour of the Nyangambe villagers since the beginning of the conflict. It seems as the local state institutions responsible for land issues have a limited understanding of, and exercise little control over land issues. MACRAD observed that the Gustaruzhinji on-going land conflict is a predominantly political power struggle. Land disputes as experienced have a strong effect on rural socio-economic development. Land disputes have disastrous and life threatening effects on individuals as well as on groups, communities and even entire nations.
Access to land for these communities is very important to poverty reduction, economic growth, and the empowerment of the poor. More so the relevant authority and stakeholders should come together as timing of dispute resolution is very crucial in that “if these two adversaries are unable to settle their territorial dispute early, the resulting dispute is likely to last for several years.” It is understandably that if a dispute lasts for several years, a legacy of conflict is constructed and entrenched that makes any type of peace building effort much more difficult if not impossible.
Source: Masvingo Centre for Research, Advocacy and Development (MACRAD)