Mangwana, who says he was allocated 102 hectares of the sprawling 2,000-hectare land last November, showed up with an offer letter in January and told the villagers, who settled on the farm six years ago, to “harvest their crops and leave.”
Last Sunday Shava says the permanent secretary approached him at the property with a gun deliberately exposed to frighten him.
Paul Mangwana is Zanu-PF’s secretary for legal affairs.
“Our client is intent on fully utilising the farm in accordance with his offer letter but cannot attend to the same on account of your unlawful occupation and utilisation of the farm without his consent and or authority,” an eviction letter from Mangwana’s attorneys read.
“We are, therefore, instructed to demand as we hereby do that you vacate our client’s land within five days of receipt of this demand.
“You are further required to take down structures you have erected and remove any and all your belongings thereon,” the lawyers added.
Still, the entrenched families remain defiant, arguing that they occupied the farm when Mangwana was still based in the United Kingdom and applied for formalised settlement between 2014 and 2016.
While their applications have not been granted, the villagers contend, they have not been rejected either, at least as far as they know. But the information secretary counters that he deposited an application with the lands ministry in 2013.
“The lands ministry has not informed us that they are not working on our letters,” said Shava, adding that Mangwana was tactically trying to force them into a legal battle.
“We will not resort to court processes because this will legitimize his ownership of our pieces of land. On his eviction order, he talks of illegal occupation and utilisation of the farm without his consent.
“The implication is that if we have his consent, the occupation is legal,” Shava reasoned.
There are reportedly three or so other politically-connected individuals who have been allocated pieces of land at Thorndike Farm, whose owner Gilford Rukawo died in 2015.