By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
21 January 2014
In what has been described as a ‘desperate situation’ scores of people, including women and children, have been sleeping in the open for the last two weeks after Chitungwiza South MP Christopher Chigumba evicted his own supporters.
A NewsDay report Tuesday said nine families have so far been evicted from the Zano Remba Co-operative houses and 300 more are threatened.
The report said ZANU PF supporters, who include war veterans and vendors, wailed and accused Chigumba of dishonesty as they narrated their ordeal Monday. District war veterans leader Irene Hove is said to have wept uncontrollably. The evictees also accused the police of beating them and further accused Chigumba of personalizing the project.
Former St Mary’s legislator and leading Chitungwizwa community leader, Job Sikhala, told SW Radio Africa that the situation was desperate. Sikhala said the eviction was an act of ‘evil’ saying it was typical of ZANU PF which uses people during the campaign period only to dump them soon after the election.
He urged humanitarian agencies to move in to rescue the women and children who are at the mercy of the ‘rains, mosquito and thugs.’ Sikhala said: ‘If there is a situation right now which must be publicized all over the world it is that of women and children who are sleeping in the open right in the middle of the rain season. These people were used and they believed that ZANU PF cared for them. We really need to sympathize with them.’
Chigumba, who is the patron of the co-operative, is quoted in the report claiming that the project is not a co-operative but his personal business. He also accused the members of being crooks. He is also said to be demanding $5,000 cash from the members in addition to what they contributed over the years.
According to the report contributors to the housing project produced receipts which showed that the project is indeed a co-operative operating under the name Zano Remba Housing Co-operative and that they had been making monthly payments for several years.
The co-operative was started in 2004 with the help of the then Harare provincial governor, the late Witness Mangwende. According to NewsDay Mavis Chibanda said the project is built on state land for low-income earners such as the war veterans, soldiers and vendors. Chibanda also said that Chigumba was brought in as a patron because he is a ZANU PF MP but to the member’s surprise debt collectors pitched up at the place in 2009 demanding $5,000 from each family. At the time members were also shocked to hear that the co-operative belonged to Chigumba, under his company Chigumba Holdings.
According to NewsDay, the government ordered the Chitungwiza Municipality to surrender more than 1,000 stands to Chigumba ahead of the 2005 general elections.