The Sunday News
Munyaradzi Musiiwa, Midlands Correspondent
MORE than 500 communal farmers from Chivhunze Farm under Chief Bvute in Mberengwa have been served with eviction notices.
The farmers were settled at the farm in 2009 and paid US$20 to the local authority which issued them with permits under the settlement permits by-laws of 2006. However, the settlers have been given less than a month to vacate the area by Government through the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Resettlement. The farmers last week petitioned Mberengwa North Member of Parliament, Cde Tafanana Zhou, and other Government officials to air out their grievances.
“The farmers approached me to register their grievances. They hold permits that they were issued with in 2009. They have been at the farm for close to a decade now. They said they were being told to vacate the farm as they are being classified as illegal settlers. So we have approached Government and the party (Zanu-PF) leadership to assist these farmers because in my view they were legally settled and cannot be classified as illegal settlers,” Cde Zhou.
Zanu-PF Midlands provincial chairperson, Engineer Daniel McKenzie Ncube confirmed receiving the report saying the party will deliberate on the matter and approach the responsible ministry to assist the farmers.
“I have received the letters from the farmers including their copies of permits they were issued with. We will approach the responsible ministry so that we understand how and why the farmers are being evicted. I feel that there could have been miscommunication which led to the farmers being classified as illegal settlers. We will also raise the concern with the Minister of State for Midlands Provincial Affairs,” he said.
Government recently announced that it will soon evict all illegal settlers who invaded privately owned farms, ungazzetted state land and forests. Midlands Minister of State Cde Larry Mavima recently said Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri had instructed all provinces to evict all illegal settlers.
Minister Mavima said the Land Commission was also moving around all provinces inspecting farms on usage and productivity. Minister of State Security Cde Owen Ncube said some of the people who are being categorised as illegal settlers were those that had been allocated land by Government but were still to receive offer letters.
“The removal of illegal settlers is a national operation. In Mutare they invaded a forest meant for timber production. However, we have realised that there are some people who were settled on farms while waiting for offer letters and it has taken longer than expected. There are reports also that there are some leasing land and we want that land to be repossessed,” he said.