By Makhosi Sibanda and Busi Bhebhe
“Eviction” is a term that has become increasingly familiar to Zimbabweans over the past decade as one of the most visible symbols of poverty and economic misfortune.
Social scientists world over say the reality of evictions can be more complicated than the general narratives could indicate.
The recent eviction of about 300 families from Willsgrove Farm in Umguza district early this year exhibits some of the harshest realities that face Zimbabweans today.
What seemed a normal day at the resettlement area turned out to be the worst when they were left homeless after being evicted from the property and their homes demolished.
The farm is owned by MacDonald Bricks which had a court order to evict the families.
The effect of the eviction was more of a life changing experience for one Ms Thobekile Moyo who had lived at the farm for so many years.
For her and other villagers, the eviction served to destabilise them considering they were already in economically vulnerable positions.
"It caused me to lose the job that I had, while it was not a great job for starters I am now totally unemployed,” said Moyo who is a mother of two minor children.
She tells Amakhosikazi Media that after the eviction, she could not report for duty where she was employed as caregiver at one of the local crèches in Bulawayo leading to her losing her job.
“My aunt who lives in the city immediately took in my son and daughter and they are continuing with school from there, as for me I do not have a clue as to where I should begin, as I do not have the money to look for a new place to stay,” said Moyo.
She said at the moment she is still living with a friend but the stay would not be long as her husband will be back from Botswana where he works in two months.
“I had saved up for that land for so many year, I feel I have been robbed of a lifetime of savings, some of the funds I had inherited from my late husband were channelled into this investment that has just blown up,” said Moyo.
She said there was no way she could recover from her loss.
Moyo is among scores of victims, dozens of them women and even based outside Zimbabwe, who may have been scammed by corrupt members of the community who had been selling portions of the land to desperate citizens, at seemingly low prices. One victim who spoke to Amakhosikazi media from her base in Manchester, United Kingdom said she was about to start building on the said land before she was informed that her piece of land had been resold to another person. Listen to her ordeal here
An elderly woman, Siza Bhule says she too lost her land to the same scammers in 2016. Bhule, who already owns a home says the stands were being promoted at her church where many congregants bought into the idea and even constructed homes on the land only for them to be destroyed recently.
Umguza Member of Parliament who is also the Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs Minister Mr Richard Moyo was quoted in the media as saying the evictions were inevitable as the land was private property. He apportioned blame on land barons for swindling members of the public.
“I am aware of the evictions and the place they are being evicted from is a private property. The issue is that MacDonald settled its ex-workers, five of them, after they had said they had nowhere to go after they retired. I know one of them Magangeni Ncube,” Moyo was quoted as saying in one of the local dailies soon after the evictions.
As land and accommodation continues to be a big problem in Zimbabwe, many citizens locally and foreign based will become prey to such land barons who claim to have access to affordable land. Bulawayo’s housing-waiting-list alone stands at over one hundred and ten thousand names with little being said on how this backlog will be met by the council and by when. The biggest victims and casualties of these accommodation limitation will in no doubt be women, girls and children.