Sharon Chimenya, Masvingo Correspondent
A SENIOR Government official has warned village heads in the Mushandike Resettlement area on the southern outskirts of Masvingo City to desist from illegally parcelling out land that is meant for agricultural production.
There have been reported cases of massive illegal land sales in the Mushandike Resettlement area, 20km south of Masvingo City with some of the village heads at the forefront of the illegal activity. During a recent field day at Mr Godfrey Matarirano’s homestead in the area, Masvingo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Ezra Chadzamira said that the traditional leaders should police their area and desist from parcelling out land to illegal settlers.
The illegal parcelling out of land has affected farmers in the Mushandike Irrigation Scheme as they no longer have grazing land while the illegal settlers illegally syphon water meant for irrigation from canals. Some of the illegal settlers damage the canals as they divert the water to their homes and plots. One of the farmers said they have had to resort to providing supplementary feed to their cattle when in the past the animals were released into paddocks to graze on their own.
“We no longer have grazing pastures, even when going to the boreholes to fetch water; we are forced to pass through the homes of the illegal settlers. Even if my toilet collapses I cannot go to the backyard because already there are people who have been settled there.
We now have a problem of overpopulation and yet this is an irrigation scheme which has a very small hectarage. We don’t even know where some of these people came from,” said a villager who refused to be named.
Cde Chadzamira said people should utilise the land that they were given by the Government or risk losing it.
“Village heads please take care of this land and ensure that there is space for grazing and for farming. Don’t just parcel out land turning an irrigation scheme into a town; you will end up having no space to farm. You are the police officers of this area and don’t allow people to become illegal settlers in your areas because tomorrow you won’t have areas for grazing.
You have been allocated land, you must protect it and those who were given farms must utilise them and not hold them for speculative purposes. If we get information that you are not utilising the land for production we will repossess it,” he said.
A number of rural areas around major towns have become targets of land barons who are buying cheap land from village heads and reselling it to desperate home seekers in cities.