GWERU — Midlands Provincial Governor and Resident Minister, Jason Machaya, has warned about 250 illegal settlers who invaded a leading dairy farm 10km outside Gweru to vacate the property this week or face the wrath of the law.
Machaya, who doubles as Zanu PF provincial chairperson told NewsDay the invaders at Wildebeest Laagte Farm were acting unlawfully and should follow proper channels if they want land.
Part of Wildebeest Laagte Farm was compulsorily acquired by the government for resettlement while former owner Derrick Shaw was allowed to retain 200 hectares for his dairy project. Machaya said the era of farm invasions was over and anyone seeking land should go through land district committees and get offer letters before being properly resettled.
“These invaders were supposed to leave that farm last Thursday. It’s only that our officers from the Department of Physical Planning who were supposed to do the pegging were not on the ground.
That process (pegging) is supposed to run parallel with resettling people. So now that the officials are available we have extended the days and by end of this week (Friday) there should be no invaders. Otherwise the law will take its course. By Monday next week, this issue should be resolved,” Machaya said.
“It is also important for people to note that the era of haphazard farm invasions is over and anyone who goes against government policy would face the full wrath of the law.” However, some of the invaders accused Machaya of sympathising with the former owner, a charge the government denied.
“He (Machaya) is too close to this farmer and we feel he is benefitting by protecting him (Shaw),” said one invader who requested anonymity.But Machaya shot back: “That is an opinion and everyone is entitled to their opinions. I have nothing to gain from this farmer.
Personally, I wanted him to vacate the farm, but the government said dairy farmers like Shaw should at least retain a maximum of 300 hactares. This is government policy and not even the governor can go against that policy. It should be respected.” A fresh wave of farm invasions has been reported across the country in the past few months.