Ndebele chief stands up for white farmer facing eviction in Zim
Head of the country's largest tribal area says family was chosen decades ago to be custodians of a sacred mountain
An Ndebele chief has come to the defence of a white couple who are threatened with eviction from their tourist lodge in Zimbabwe.
Carol Davies, who was forced to give up most of the 12,000-acre farm her grandfather founded, is fighting to keep control of the newly renovated lodge on top of a sacred mountain on what remains of her land.
She went to the High Court in Bulawayo this week to stop her eviction and is being supported by Chief Felix Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni, head of the largest tribal area in Zimbabwe.
“The reason I want them there is because this family was chosen decades ago to be custodians of this sacred mountain, and they have done a sterling job, and kept the mountain sacred for our people,” said the chief.
“I am continuing with the wishes of the late paramount chief who died in 2010 after 71 years in power. Our heritage goes back a long way and our traditional wishes cannot be ignored.”
Over the past 20 years about 90% of Zimbabwe’s white farmers have been evicted as part of a forced land resettlement programme started by Robert Mugabe, the former president.
Davies’s grandfather, Jack Parsons, originally bought and worked the land containing the sacred hill, about 20km from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second city.
His holding was split up 14 years ago and handed to Mugabe’s supporters, but Davies and her husband Brian remained on a small part.
Now Floyd Ambrose, a mixed-race man from Bulawayo, wants the lodge. He worked for the Davies family years ago, and they then allowed him to use the lodge as a tourist resort, but that failed.
The Davies family moved back again and did considerable renovations. Now Amrbose says he wants the lodge and, with the support of the lands department, has ordered the couple out.
Asked for comment, Ambrose said: “I don’t know what you are talking about. The courts will decide this.”
Most evicted farmers have failed to persuade the courts that they should stay on their land, but the Davies couple say they have to remain hopeful.
Chief Ndiweni, who lived in the UK for more than 20 years, said evictions of white farmers in Zimbabwe have been “a crying shame and a tragedy”.
“Zimbabwe is our home. We don’t ever want to leave. We don’t have other passports,” said Carol Davies. Her solicitor, David Coltart, the former education minister during Zimbabwe’s 2009 unity government and a long-time human rights activist, said the eviction of the Davies family was “ridiculous”.
He noted that President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who ousted Mugabe in a coup nearly 18 months ago, had previously pledged that the land-invasion era was over.
“This is now a tourist facility, near Bulawayo’s airport and not a farm any longer,” he said.
– © Telegraph Media Group Limited (2019)