In a letter to the villagers in possession of the Daily News, 3 Brigade commander, Brigadier General George Chitsva, gave the Rufuka Village 14B residents until June 30 to leave the area or face eviction.
The Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) wants to evict 100 villagers in Wengezi, Manicaland, saying they were illegally resettled 36 years ago in a military cantonment.
“You are expected to comply by vacating the cantonment area by June 30, 2020 or face forceful removal.
Please cooperate and comply,” reads the letter dated May 7, but delivered to the villagers last week. Chitsva said the army was allocated the land in 2003.
“This letter serves to remind you that you must vacate from Wengezi Military Training Area by June 30, 2020. “The area is reserved exclusively for military use as provided in the Government Gazette No 82 of 2003,” the army general wrote.
But a representative of the villagers, Stephen Choto, said they were shocked by the army move as they were resettled by the government in 1984.
He said each family was allocated 12-acre plots and they had even built a primary school in the area. “We were settled here around 1984 legally and it came as a shock that the army is now saying the area was gazetted in 2003 and we were never informed of any such development,” Choto said.
Choto said they were concerned that they would be bullied off their land and were yet to consult the Lands ministry on the development. “We just received this from the army and we have not heard anything from those who settled us here 36 years ago – the ministry of Lands.
“We are hoping to engage them on what really is happening because as far as we are concerned this is our land and the army has their own space away from here,” he said.
The army, however, claimed the villagers settled themselves in the area. “Take note that you have no right at law to settle yourself in the gazetted area,” the letter claimed.
“Zimbabwe National Army is set to conduct some military training in the area and your presence will negatively affect the smooth flow of military activities. “Furthermore, you expose yourself and your family to potential danger from military activities that may be undertaken in the cantonment from time to time.”
Source – Bulawayo24 News