Patrick Chitumba Midlands Bureau Chief
GOVERNMENT has issued 500 eviction letters to illegal settlers who have been disrupting production at commercial farms in the Midlands Province and causing massive land degradation.
Midlands Provincial Agricultural Technical and Extension Services (Agritex) officer Mrs Madeline Magwenzi said they started issuing the letters on Monday.
“We have started this exercise of flushing out illegal settlers across the Midlands Province and we have given 500 eviction letters. We want to bring normalcy in these farms as we understand production had been affected and these illegal settlers were allegedly causing land degradation,” she said.
Illegal settlers in the Chemagora area in Gokwe South, where a farm owner was brutally murdered by angry illegal settlers after he allegedly shot dead one of them during an eviction attempt, were also served with eviction notices.
Mr Dumapi Tutani who is the Chemagora Small Scale Commercial Farmers Union chairperson said the serving of eviction notices has brought joy and relief to farm owners who have been battling with the problem for a long time.
“This exercise is being carried out by the Ministry Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement and they are being complemented by various other Government departments including the police and the DA’s office,” he said.
“As of yesterday 4 of the 24 invaded farms had been covered, though we think that the team on the ground could do much better if they get more resources such as vehicles so that they could cover the whole ward in a shorter period of time.”
Minister of State for Midlands Provincial Affairs Larry Mavima said Government tasked the Land Commission to assess farms that exceed the recommended sizes and those that were being underutilised which will be parcelled out to people in need of land.
Midlands Provincial Lands Committee has recommended downsizing of over 50 farms for resettlement from owners who have over the years failed to utilise them.
The farms, according to recommendations from the lands committee, will be downsized into viable plots for allocation to other potential land owners. Minister Mavima said the province was still grappling with illegal settlers, some of who settled on State land for close to 20 years.
Midlands Province has more than 15 000 illegal settlers some of whom were resettled by politicians and traditional chiefs.