BY NIZBERT MOYO
VILLAGERS at Sigola in Esigodini, Matabeleland South province, are demanding the eviction of close to 300 illegal settlers from their cattle grazing area.
The alleged invaders reportedly connived with some locals to get land without the approval of traditional leaders and the Umzingwane Rural District Council.
The villagers have since reported the issue to Chief Sigola who distanced himself from the illegal allocation of land.
Southern Eye on Tuesday established that there were close to 300 illegal settlers who have taken over communal land.
Villagers implicated some locals, working in connivance with the chief’s close relatives, who have been accused of taking advantage of the chief’s advanced age to dole out land.
Some of the accused denied the claims.
“These people have created parallel structures in our community. The land now being occupied by these illegal settlers is meant for our children and livestock.
We used to register all our children who needed land and allocate them plots during meetings as a community,’’ Gogo MaNdlovu said.
She also noted that stocktheft cases had increased, but said villagers could not implicate newcomers for fear of victimisation.
Gogo MaNdlovu said some power-hungry villagers were taking advantage of Chief Sigola’s advanced age.
Simile Ndlovu said the problem escalated soon after last year’s harmonised elections when more people came to settle on their land.
Headman Elmon Dlodlo, however, said the issue had nothing to do with politics.
“Villagers are bitter about the issue, they demand an end to this corruption, these locals do not listen to their traditional leaders,’’ Dlodlo said.
Approached for comment, Chief Sigola confirmed there were illegal settlers in his area of jurisdiction.
“Illegal settlers are there, I do not know these people and I do not want them here,’’ the chief said.
Umzingwane RDC chief executive officer Ndumiso Mpofu said he was aware that there were illegal settlers mostly in ward 1 and 2, adding that council was planning to evict them.
“There are over 200 illegal settlers mostly occupying ward 1 and 2 who are claiming that they have been allocated land by some authority.
“They claim that someone is selling land to them. This is illegal; there is a parallel structure that claims to be an authority. The council is planning to evict them through legal means,’’ Mpofu said.