4,000 civil servants to be evicted from Whitecliff
HARARE – Four thousand Whitecliff residents, mostly civil servants illegally settled at the private farm in Harare in 2006 will be evicted soon after Government failed to honour its promise to pay US$44 million to the property owner.
The evictions are to take place by April, 2024.
The owner of the 1 065,7 hectare farm, Edward Nyanyiwa Pfugari (Junior) confirmed the development in an exclusive interview with The Mirror and said there is no going back on the evictions.
He said the final decision to carry out the evictions followed a litany of false promises by Government to compensate him for his land.
The farm was compulsorily acquired by the Government in 2006, subdivided by the then Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Ignatius Chombo and distributed for free among 4,000 civil servants and other people as Zanu PF faced a threat of defeat at the polls by the opposition MDC. Eddies Pfugari Properties contested the compulsory acquisition in the High Court and Supreme Court and won back his farm.
The company then got an eviction order for the 4,000 illegal settlers from the Supreme Court but Government engaged Pfugari and offered to pay US$44 million for the property so that the residents would not be kicked out.
Beneficiaries have up to now been told that the land belongs to Government and their tenure is secure. This propaganda is worse particularly now when Zanu PF is contesting a by-election for Zvimba East Constituency on February 4, 2024. However, a group of residents that tried to get title deeds for the stands from the Ministry of Local Government was told the truth that the titles can only be obtained from Pfugari who is the legitimate owner of the land.
Whitecliff has become a sprawling suburb with some of the best houses in Harare and evictions will lead to lifetime losses for residents.
Pfugari was represented by Scanlen and Holdings in the court cases that ran until 2016. The eviction order given by Justice David Mangota is against the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement and all parties claiming occupation through him.
“Now therefore, you are required and directed to eject the said Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement and or all persons claiming occupation through him, their goods and possession, from and out of occupation and possession whatsoever of the said premises, and to leave the same to the end that the said Pfugari Properties may peacefully enter into and possess the same,” reads part of the eviction order.
“We agreed with the Government in 2019 for a settlement of US$44 million so that it takes the farm and secure the tenure of the civil servants. However, we have been waiting for years for the payment but nothing is coming. When we put pressure to get the money last year, Government offered a downpayment of US$21 but turned around and said they could only pay US$2 million which is a slap in the face.
“Our board of directors for Eddies Pfugari Properties therefore resolved that we immediately evict the illegal settlers and retain our land and this we will do in the next few weeks. The court order from Justice Mangota is clear about this and the Sheriff will use Police to effect the eviction,” said Pfugari.
The Minister of Local Government and Public Works Winston Chitando could not be reached for comment as his mobile was not reachable.
Meanwhile, residents who realised the quagmire have agreed to save the situation by forming Whitecliff South Residents Association (WSRA) and they approached Pfugari Properties with an offer to pay for their stands. Negotiations are said to have recently started.
Meanwhile, Zanu PF councillor for the area Ephraim Tendaupenyu Gonzo continues to assure residents that his party will facilitate title deeds for the stands and there is no reason to worry.
Sources alleged that Gonzo is selling Pfugari land to desperate home seekers and Zanu PF supporters.
Gonzo could not be reached for comment as his mobile was not available.
WSRA chairman Maxwel Gwatire confirmed the formation of the association and said engaging Pfugari is the right and legal thing to do. He said White Cliff residents will remain squatters without title deeds and security of tenure as long as they don’t settle the matter with Pfugari.
He said residents can also be evicted anytime.
“We went to the Ministry of Local Government and were told by various senior officials including Engineer Nhoro in no uncertain terms that the land belongs to Pfugari and not Government. They told us that we could only get the title deeds to the stands from Pfugari.
“We have since sent emissaries to Pfugari in a bid to avert evictions and we understand he is willing to sell the land to us at US$5 per square metre and those with 300 m stands will pay US$1 500.
“We have been lied to for 19 years that this is Government land . The problem is that the issue is being politicised for votes. Politicians lie to residents that the Government will ultimately give them the stands for free; it’s a lie.
“Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi was telling residents recently that Government will give Pfugari another piece of land somewhere and settle the matter. This again is a lie,” said Gwatirere
He said that formed association already has 800 members and on Monday they are meeting Pfugari over the pending evictions and our resolve to make a private settlement.
“Politicians have been harassing members of the association and even threatening to beat us up for negotiating with Pfugari. Now the same politicians are asking for positions in the association. We have told them that our association is apolitical and we want it to remain neutral,” said Gwatirere.
Zvimba East CCC MP Oliver Mutasa urged residents to regularise their stands with Pfugari.
“There are Zanu PF politicians who are against regularisation of this suburb because they benefit by illegally selling stands at Pfugari’s farm. They are holding residents at ransom for purposes of getting votes.
“There are two options for residents; either engage Pfugari or get evicted. There is no third way,” said Mutasa.