Il­le­gal set­tlers given ul­ti­ma­tum

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Nqo­bile Tshili Chron­i­cle Cor­re­spon­dent

THE Gov­ern­ment has given squat­ters nine days to va­cate il­le­gal ru­ral set­tle­ments or risk be­ing evicted and pros­e­cuted.

In a state­ment yes­ter­day, the Min­is­ter of Lands and Ru­ral Re­set­tle­ment Dr Dou­glas Mombeshora, said any­one who oc­cu­pied land with­out an of­fer let­ter from his min­istry or dis­trict lands com­mit­tees in var­i­ous parts of the coun­try should move out im­me­di­ately.

“This no­tice there­fore serves to in­form all il­le­gal 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,” said Dr Mombeshora.

He said il­le­gal set­tle­ments were neg­a­tively af­fect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment.

“Given the elab­o­rate and care­fully con­sid­ered plan­ning un­der­taken in re­set­tle­ment ar­eas that took into ac­count eco­log­i­cal 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,” he said.

It is il­le­gal for any per­son to oc­cupy ru­ral land with­out an of­fi­cial tem­po­rary per­mit is­sued by the Dis­trict Lands Com­mit­tee, an of­fer let­ter or per­mis­sion of the Min­istry of Min­is­ter of Lands and Ru­ral Re­set­tle­ment.

The Min­istry’s warn­ing comes fol­low­ing sev­eral in­ci­dents of il­le­gal par­celling out of land by tra­di­tional lead­ers and coun­cil­lors in some lo­cal author­i­ties.

In Umguza’s Ward 13 vil­lagers are at log­ger­heads with the area’s coun­cil­lor Cde Earnest Sibanda, and a head­man, who they ac­cused of il­le­gally set­tling peo­ple on their graz­ing land.

The vil­lagers re­ported the mat­ter to Chief Deli who has writ­ten a let­ter to the com­mu­nity lead­ers or­der­ing them to stop il­le­gal re­set­tle­ments. In a let­ter dated Au­gust 12, Chief Deli said: “I’d be happy if this let­ter finds you well. I’m writ­ing this let­ter to in­form you to stop trou­bling vil­lagers. Re­move those peo­ple that you’ve set­tled in the peo­ple’s places. You’d rather set­tle them where there are no peo­ple. You should have an un­der­stand­ing with vil­lagers be­fore mak­ing set­tle­ments.”

The Chron­i­cle spoke to Chief Deli for fur­ther clar­i­fi­ca­tion and he con­firmed writ­ing the let­ter say­ing he has or­dered vil­lagers to “chase away” the il­le­gal set­tlers.

A com­ment could not be ob­tained from Cde Sibanda as his cell phone was not reach­able but the head­man, a Mr Tshakalisa de­nied be­ing in­volved in the il­le­gal land al­lo­ca­tion. — @nqot­shili

Dr Dou­glas Mombeshora

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