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Gov arrests 250 illegal settlers in Masvingo 

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Gov arrests 250 illegal settlers in Masvingo 

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MIRROR REPORTER

MASVINGO – Government is finally acting on illegal settlers and village heads who have been selling State land with 250 arrested and charged in Masvingo in the last one week alone, The Mirror can reveal.

Arrested suspects are spending a night at Masvingo Central Police cells which are packed to the brim before they are taken to court for remand the next day.

The action seems to follow a recent strong warning by President Mnangagwa to local authorities that land belongs to the State and anyone who sells it would face the full wrath of the law.

The arrests are taking place under ‘Operation Order No to Land Barons’ and the suspects are charged with contravening Section 3 (1) of the Gazetted Land (Consequential Provisions) Act Chapter 20:28 as read with Section 5 occupation of gazetted  land without lawful authority.

Masvingo Minister of State for Provincial Affairs, Ezra Chadzamira confirmed the operation and said it would run from January 10 – February 9, 2024. Currently most of the arrested suspects are from within the 20km radius of Masvingo Central Business District (CBD).

The charged appeared before Magistrate Elizabeth Hanzi and they would get trial dates. 

Zimbabwe has since 2 000 been bedeviled with illegal settlements particularly in resettlement areas where some chiefs have made thousands selling State land. Just before he died the then Minister of Lands, Retired Air Marshal Perrance Shiri gave notice to all illegal settlers to vacate within seven days but the notice was not followed through after his death. 

Illegal settlements in Masvingo are seriously threatening Lake Mtirikwi with siltation while in resettlement areas particularly under Headman Musara, people have run out of grazing land. In the cities, land barons have created haphazard settlements with no roads, water or power while many settlements are on wetlands. 

Chadzamira said those settled in catchment areas, wetlands, grazing land and agriculture land should immediately vacate and properly apply for land when he launched the campaign at his office last Friday. 

“Illegal settlers have occupied catchment areas, wetlands, grazing land and agriculture land hence affecting productivity and threatening dams and rivers with siltation. If you are illegally settled in the areas mentioned above in Masvingo, you are advised to vacate immediately and follow due procedures in acquiring land,” he warned. 

Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Dr Anxious Masuka said illegal settlements will not be regularised and those that would have been arrested should relocate when he launched the national operation in Harare recently. 

“It is a criminal offence, in terms of the Zimbabwe land Commission Act [Chapter 20: 29] and the gazetted Lands (Consequential Provisions Act) [Chapter 20:28], for anyone to occupy state land without lawful authority in the form of a permit, an offer letter or a lease. 

“Government will not regularise those that settle themselves on State land without procedurally issued tenure documents. The full wrath of the law will be applied in such cases of illegal settlements,” warned Masuka. 

Cases of village heads, headmen and chiefs parceling out land for about US$300 are rampant in Masvingo’s peri-urban areas. 

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