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Editorial Comment: Demolitions: Survival instinct has the last word!

The recent eviction of illegal farm settlers in Masvingo and the merciless violence employed during the exercise is impossible to justify for many reasons.

That is perhaps the reason why the same sponsors of this human tragedy had to make a U-turn and stop this insanity.

Most of the victims of this madness have lived in these places for more than 20 years. They have built and developed homes, families have grown and branched off, with adult children taking up their own pieces of land and building their own homes with their new families.

The result has been sprawling settlements where thousands of families now regard as their only homes. Schools, clinics and business centres have been built over the years.

And then the government arrives today and drives caterpillars and earthmovers into these communities, demolishing everything. They ordered whole communities to disappear from these places without giving them places to go to.

The government and its agents, including the Masvingo provincial affairs minister Ezra Chadzamira, have watched these developments over the years.

It, therefore, came as a cruel joke when early this month, the villagers woke up to find their homes being razed to the ground and they were being ordered to leave and “go where you came from” 20-30 years ago.

Some of them were arrested and locked up in jail, only to be released upon paying hefty fines. They had no homes to go back to and their families are living out in the open with everything they own.

This was clearly not the best way for the government to deal with the problem of illegal settlements on farms. They needed to have stopped this at the first sight of such settlements. Waiting for people to invest thousands of dollars in big homes and lifetime projects and then coming to demolish them is evil.

The government said the madness would also go to towns and cities where peri-urban settlements, many of which are also up to 20 years old, would be demolished. Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume spoke emotionally against these settlements saying cities had master plans that were meant to accommodate everyone.

These master plans have been there since the time of Ian Smith, but the cities have sat on them while urban populations continued to grow. The result has been an explosion of urban populations and the inevitable sprouting of peri-urban settlements.

All this has happened under the watch of central government. Mayor Mafume too, has attended council meetings where urban population explosion must have been discussed. They did nothing about it.

Now, instead of appreciating and embracing the proactive Sabhuku deals, Mafume and his ilk want to pretend to be surprised and angry.

Instead of regularising and organising the peri-urban settlements better, for their own financial benefit, Mafume is frothing at the mouth about cannibalism. Yet he sees solution in forcing back into the city the millions of people that now reside in Goromonzi, Domboshava, Seke, Beatrice and Zvimba East.

Such a move would create a needless and cruel human tragedy – the folly of a sick mind.

But then again Mr. Mayor, survival instinct always has the last word!

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