Police burn war veterans' homes

MASVINGO - Heavily-armed police in Masvingo torched over 30 homesteads belonging to war veterans who invaded black-owned farms on Thursday.

The war veterans said they invaded the farms because the new owners were leasing land to white farmers who were chucked out during the chaotic 2000 land grabs.

The demolition of the homes has brought a fresh rift between war veterans and Zanu PF, with war veterans angrily accusing the party of instructing police to remove them from the farms.

Officials aligned to Zanu PF are against the invasions saying the action is against the principles of the land reform programme.

War veterans under the banner of Masvingo East Growers Association (Mega) on the other hand said they lost property worth thousands of dollars after the police action to evict them.

“Armed police descended on our farms and razed our homes to the ground,” said Mega chairperson, Rueben Chikono.

“They said this was a result of an instruction from the provincial lands committee led by party big wigs. We are not happy with this and we will fight back,” he said.

The move has brought fresh chaos and controversy to the land redistribution exercise as fellow comrades are now fighting against each other on the farms.

Chikono, who is a high ranking war veteran in the province, said they were now staying in the open with their families after the police set ablaze their homes at Makwari, Wind Crest, Manna Bill and Sundowns farms.

He described the officials who deployed the police as “sell outs” because they were protecting white farmers returning to the farms.

“The land redistribution is clear that we take farms from the whites.

Unfortunately, our colleagues were bought and because of greed they have brought back the whites. That’s why we moved into their farms because we cannot let them sell out but the party is protecting them,” said Chikono.

Masvingo police spokesperson, Peter Zhanero could not be reached for comment while provincial administrator Felix Chikovo declined to comment saying he was on leave.

Zanu PF provincial chairperson Lovemore Matuke declined to comment. - Godfrey Mtimba

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