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    Saturday, 27 August 2016

    Govt gives illegal settlers Sept 6 ultimatum



    NKULUMANI MLAMBO

    MASVINGO –
    The Government has given all illegal settlers throughout the country until September 6, 2016 to move or be evicted.
    This is contained in a notice placed in the media by the Minister of Lands and Rural Resettlement Douglas Mombeshora last week.
    In a strongly worded statement, Mombeshora said illegal settlers were affecting the properly planned resettlement schemes.
    Hundreds of people in Masvingo and other provinces throughout the country are illegally settled after buying land in resettlement areas, from chiefs, headmen, kraal heads and sometimes Government officials.
    Goverment has repeatedly called upon the illegal settlers to report those who sold them land to the Police.
    Mombeshora cited the Lands Act as the basis of his warning which makes it an offence to occupy rural State land without permission from the Minister.
    "Given the elaborate and carefully considered planning undertaken in resettlement areas that took into account ecological aspects, such as natural resource management and conservation, as well as issues of viability, Government will not tolerate illegal settlements that have mushroomed in undesignated areas including grazing and catchment areas of dams and rivers. Any person occupying rural land without an official temporary permit issued by the District Lands Committee, an offer letter or permission of the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement is deemed an illegal settler.
    "This notice therefore serves to inform all illegally settled people to immediately vacate Rural State land i.e the resettled farms and return to their original homes by September 6, 2016. Failure to do so will result in immediate eviction and prosecution," reads the notice.
    Since the fast track land reform program began in 2000 the rural areas have witnessed a spate of illegal settlers from all over occupying every vacant land meant for animal grazing, irrigation and conservation purposes and lands officers, chiefs and headman have been fingered in the malpractice.
    In the Midlands Province, MP for Zvishavane Ngezi Constituency, John Holder had problems with over 120 illegal settlers that had settled at Chirere Resettlement area 15km along Zvishavane Masvingo Highway.
    The illegal settlers had swamped the resettlement area from as far as Nhema, Chivi and Mapanzure and headsman in the area were alleged to have been behind the selling of undesignated plots to desperate land seekers.
    Masvingo North Constituency is the most affected in the province as it is endowed with rich farming and irrigation schemes.
    In 2014 Police burnt down 300 huts belonging to illegal settlers at the instigation of the local MP Davis Marapira who is also the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Mechanisation responsible for Cropping and Irrigation.
    Marapira warned that the biggest inland water body in the country, Lake Mutirikwi was under threat from siltation and cited lands committee in the district as culprits in the selling of land to illegal settlers.news
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