GOVERNMENT has barred fresh farm invasions and warned that culprits would be prosecuted regardless of their political affiliation, Lands and Rural Resettlement deputy minister Berita Chikwama has said.
Source: No more fresh farm invasions: Government – NewsDay Zimbabwe June 14, 2016
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU/SILAS NKALA
Chikwama issued the warning while addressing Senate last Thursday after Senator Chief Musarurwa expressed concern over reports of fresh farm invasions across the country.
“It is not government policy that people should go and resettle themselves in farming areas. As far as the ministry is concerned, we are dealing with such problems which are now resurfacing, that people just get into the farms illegally, and we term them illegal settlers,” she said.
Chikwama requested for a list of farms that have been invaded recently and promised to evict the invaders.
Several top government and Zanu PF officials have allegedly continued with the farm invasions despite government’s pronouncements that the land reform programme had ended.
Just last week, there were reports of attempts to grab Maleme Ranch in Matobo after which Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko reportedly ordered that the property be spared.
Mphoko last year ordered State spy agent, Rodney Mashingaidze, to stay away from Maleme, arguing that the farm houses Big Cave Camp and Ebenezer Agricultural Training Centre.
But last month, Rural Development, Preservation of Culture and Heritage minister Abednico Ncube defied Mphoko’s directive and ordered the farm owner, Peter Cunningham, to move out and pave way for Mashingaidze.
Meanwhile, former Zipra cadre John Gazi (59) has been ordered to compensate for the damage he caused to Tili Mutemeli’s car after the latter invaded his farm in Bulawayo last year.
According to court records gleaned by Southern Eye last Friday, Gazi, of Barham Green in Bulawayo, was arrested last year after he vandalised Mutemeli’s car’s headlamps and taillights using an axe and deflated its four tyres with a bayonet knife in protest over the invasion of his farm.
Records state that Gazi pleaded guilty to the charge of malicious damage to property and was convicted before being ordered to restitute Mutemeli $1 691,07 which is the cost of the damaged property.
In mitigation, Gazi said his actions on the day were prompted by the police failure to act on his report that people had invaded his farm between October and November 2015 and he wrongfully took action to defend his farm from being grabbed by Zanu PF activists led by Mutemeli.
On Tuesday last week, Gazi appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Tinashe Tashaya to seek extension of time to pay restitution.
The magistrate gave him up to July 8 this year to restitute Mutemeli.