via Land audit committee threatens to flush out illegal settlers – NewsDay March 20, 2015
A GOVERNMENT land audit committee in Midlands Province has threatened to flush out over 7 000 informal settlers who illegally resettled themselves on commercial farms accusing them of disrupting production and causing massive land degradation.
In its report, the audit team led by Midlands Provincial Affairs minister Jason Machaya, said Shurugwi district had 5 571 illegal settlers who invaded commercial farms at the height of election campaigns.
Gokwe had a total of 1 160 illegal settlers.
“There are 7 330 informal settlers in the Midlands province. Most informal settlements take place during election periods. Informal settlement should never be condoned for it brings about land degradation and disorder,” read part of the report.
Zanu PF legislators often promote illegal farm grabs as a campaign gimmick.
The audit committee noted that most of the settlers were failing to utilise the land and contributing to the current food shortages.
“District committees must deal with these decisively. The policy position is that no one is allowed to resettle himself/herself on any piece of land. The Gazetted Land (Consequential Provisions) Act prohibits this on gazetted land, which once gazetted, becomes State land.
“People who resettle themselves are illegal settlers or squatters who must be removed by either squatter control committees, or the owner of the land (i.e. on private, held land) or lessee i.e. on leased land like small scale commercial farms,” the report read.
Machaya’s committee upheld government’s decision to allow commercial dairy farmers to retain their farms.
“The incumbents operating the (dairy) farms should be recommended to continue with dairy production. This was brought about by a realization that dairy production requires intensive and heavy capital outlays investments.
“There is also a certain threshold of experience required to make dairy farming viable and sustainable. It was also noted that there has been a drastic decline of milk production since the beginning of the land reform programme,” the report said.