Co-operative gardeners face eviction in Harare
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The members of the Evergreen Garden co-op are mainly people living with HIV, orphaned children, care givers, and the elderly. They have earned a small income growing vegetables on the nearly 25-acre garden since 2008. The site is on state-owned land that is administered by the Harare city council. Earlier this month, the local District Administrator's office served the co-op with a notice of eviction.
Project coordinator Juao Zangaroti says the move would hurt the already vulnerable members of his community. "It caught us by surprise. What I saw in it was so depressing because about 450 households will be affected and will be condemned to poverty."
The garden project is supported by the humanitarian aid agency Solidaritee International with the aim of assisting residents of the Glen View and Highfield suburbs of Harare who were living in poverty. The eviction letter says the council wants the farmers off the land by the end of December, so they can build a housing development.
Tonderai Chakaredza is the area's local Councillor. He blames the previous council leadership for recommending the eviction of this vulnerable group. "Since I'm still new, I don't yet have a full appreciation of what has transpired. But I have visited the District Administrators' office to ask about what's happening to the empowerment project."
The group has been given until the end of the month to reap their crops and pave way for the housing development project. Evergreen Garden leaders say they are appealing the eviction.
Garikai Chaunza, FSRN, Harare.