A storm is brewing at Corrongemite Farm, Totonga district in Shurugwi, where villagers are up in arms with a new farmer whom they are accusing of grabbing large tracts of land at the expense of other villagers.
BY PHYLLIS MBANJE
The villagers told Standardcommunity last week that former health manager for Zimasco Shurugwi, Farai Marikano, was allegedly grabbing more land despite already occupying more than 500 hectares from his initial offer letter.
“Marikano came in 2005 with an offer letter of over 500 hectares of the farm which was previously owned by a white commercial farmer John Anderson but now he is claiming another 200 hectares,” said Lovemore Maketo, a Zanu PF youth advisor for the ward.
Maketo said most of the villagers had settled on the farm since 2000 and amicably co-existed with Anderson.
“When he [Marikano] came he found villagers already settled here and he has since been trying to evict us and Anderson. We are not disputing the government process of properly resettling people but we implore them to consider us,” he said.
Marikano is said to have brought another offer letter which allowed him to occupy a further 200 hectares which included a dip tank and other infrastructure which the other villagers were using.
“How can one person have over 700 hectares when others have none. We have more than 1 000 youths here who also need to make a decent living. The government should look into our plight seriously,” said Maketo.
Another villager who spoke on condition of anonymity said Marikano had failed to co-exist with the villagers and sought to evict them from the only place they called home.
However, Marikano accused the villagers of misrepresenting facts insisting that his papers were in order.
Marikano said in 2005 he got his offer letter for 500 hectares of Corrongemite Farm under the A2 scheme but there were some villagers who were occupying part of the land.
“I did not immediately try to effect an eviction because it was during the rainy season and I felt for them. I tried to co-exist with them and the only conditions I set for them were that they should not hunt or cut down trees,” he said.
Marikano said this year the government assured him that it would seek alternative land for the affected villagers after the elections.
“The issue is out of my hands, the responsible authorities promised that after elections they would tackle the eviction,” he said.
Marikano also said the situation had been worsened by some “invaders” who were now causing more confusion.
“At the time when there were sporadic farm invasions across the country, we also had about 250 of them who came and illegally settled themselves at the farm and these are instigating chaos,” he said.
On allegations that he had another offer letter and was claiming more land, Marikano said the villagers had misunderstood the move.
“After realising that it was going to be difficult to evict the villagers from the land, I decided to leave them that piece of land and negotiated to get 200 hectares from the other side of the farm, so it still comes to the initial 500 hectares that I was offered,” he said, adding that the villagers were trying to bring back Anderson.
“They are trying to bring back this white commercial farmer.”
Zanu PF Midlands political commissar Christopher Mabhiza refused to shed light on the issue and referred all queries to the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs in the Midlands province, Jason Machaya.
However, Machaya was said to be out of his office for most of last week.