About 500 Zanu PF supporters last week invaded Ruware Ranch, one of the richest wildlife sanctuaries in the Lowveld. Ruware Ranch is under the famous Chiredzi River Conservancy which boasts of almost all the fauna found in the country.
The group, led by a war veteran only identified as Cde Shorty, were reportedly accompanied by officials from the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement.
The invaders comprised about 360 families mainly civil servants each of which got six hectares of land. We are not invading this land. It was acquired through the Ministry of Lands long back, about 12 years ago, and was just waiting for redistribution to people. Its not a new project, Shorty said in an interview with NewsDay.
Although Chiredzi district lands officer Jacob Chimoto could not be reached for comment, a source in the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement said they had been pressured by top government officials to distribute the land ahead of the elections.
We are under pressure to find as much land as possible to distribute to people before elections, said a source who declined to be named.
Moses Mare, MDC-T MP for Chiredzi West, castigated the fresh land grab, describing it as Zanu PF culture of buying votes through land redistribution, violence and rigging.
He also questioned the logic of distributing that piece of land 12 years after its purported acquisition.
If that land was acquired 12 years ago, why is it that it is distributed now when the country is going towards elections. We know they want to take this chance to buy votes, but they must know that people are now wiser than before, Mare said.
Last month, another group of Zanu PF supporters led by Boniface Mutemachani invaded a stretch of land belonging to Chiredzi Town Council.
Mutemachani claimed the group wanted to divide the land into 1 000 residential stands and distribute to desperate home seekers. The invasion was foiled by Chiredzi council officials.