HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has directed over 500 illegal settlers staying on various farms countrywide to “go back from where they came.”
Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement minister Perrance Shiri told journalists during a post-Cabinet media briefing last week that Cabinet had resolved to evict the illegal settlers ostensibly to ensure stability on the farms.
“We expect that they shall go back to where they came from. If they have got any challenges, well, we have got the social department which can look into that, but our task is to ensure there is total stability on the farms,” Shiri said.
Shiri added that government was keen on ensuring that the land reform programme be concluded, hence the need to clear up all outstanding issues including ownership disputes.
“The illegal settlers are found throughout the farming areas so basically you find them in all the provinces. We have identified where they are and we are proceeding with the evictions,” he said.
The former Air Force of Zimbabwe commander also revealed that contrary to claims by Treasury that it would not be availing inputs to farmers across the country owing to fiscal challenges, government would assist farmers with seed and fertiliser.
“Everything possible is being done for farmers to go back to the land and the government will leave no stone unturned to make sure we produce enough not only for our own consumption but even for exports,” he said inadvertently exposing the policy discord in government.
“Yes, there could be challenges here and there but that’s why we are there to look into challenges and resolve them.”
Zimbabwe embarked on the land reform programme to correct colonial land imbalances which favoured the white minority.
The programme which has been blamed for the country’s almost perennial food security challenges since then was characterised by chaos and violence as war veterans forcibly expropriated land formerly owned by white commercial farmers.
It also saw some landless Zimbabweans settling themselves unlawfully on pieces of land, a situation which the government is now trying to correct.
The government is in the process of conducting a land audit to assess utilisation patterns to open up under-utilised land for other interested citizens.
The audit is also meant to fish out multiple farm owners who grabbed large tracts of land countrywide against the one-man one-farm principle that informed the land reform programme.