Traditional leaders urged to follow law when settling people “In Matabeleland South Province we are saying no to illegal settlers or land barons on State land. The allocation of State land lies in the hands of the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Dr Anxious Masuka who has a mandate from His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe to do that job,” said Minister Ndlovu at a recent media conference.

Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu-Bulawayo Bureau 

TRADITIONAL leaders should play their part to ensure set regulations on settling villagers are followed to curb the illegal settlement of rural and urban State land, Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Dr Evelyn Ndlovu told a recent media conference.

Her sentiments come at a time when there is widespread concern over land barons with some traditional leaders being accused of reportedly selling land or getting bribes to illegally allocate land.

This has prompted the Government to conduct an operation that says “No to land barons and illegal settlements” to restore order across the country.

So far over 3 700 land barons have been arrested while several illegal settlers have been interviewed by the police to facilitate investigations. Government has vowed to ensure that all citizens are settled in an orderly manner on allocated land.

An inter-ministerial committee tasked with handling issues to do with illegal settlements on State land has been formed.

“In Matabeleland South Province we are saying no to illegal settlers or land barons on State land. The allocation of State land lies in the hands of the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Dr Anxious Masuka who has a mandate from His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe to do that job,” said Minister Ndlovu at a recent media conference.

“We urge our people to desist from taking the law into their own hands by settling themselves on State land, whether it’s in urban areas, rural areas or resettlement areas.

“Other arms of Government that participate in land allocation include the district land committee and provincial land committee that recommend candidates for resettlement to Minister Masuka.”

The minister said land issues in urban areas were being dealt with by the Minister of Local Government and Public Works working with local authorities to ensure proper procedures of land allocation.

She stressed the need for people to be continuously educated on proper land allocation processes and procedures.

“The chiefs, headman and village heads should also play their part in terms of recommendations to the State. They are not supposed to take the law into their own hands,” said Dr Ndlovu. “They are our traditional leaders and they play a crucial role in the preservation of not only culture and traditions but the law as well. The traditional leaders also have to follow the law of the country.”

In a recent statement, the Government insisted that the operation on illegal settlers was not intended to punish or remove citizens from their homesteads as is being claimed by some detractors. Rather the operation is meant to restore order in the allocation and management of State land.

In terms of the Land Commission Act and the gazetted Land (Consequential Provisions) Act, it is illegal to occupy rural State land without lawful authority in the form of an offer letter, permit or a lease.

It is also illegal for any person who is not authorised by central or local government to sell, lease or offer a lease with an option to purchase State land or council land.

Realising the prevalence of cases where people were illegally resettling themselves on State or council land, Minister Masuka issued statements on November 28 last year and January 3 this year, advising the nation that State land was not for sale and applicants should follow correct procedures to be allocated land.

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