By SILAS NKALA
OVER 5 000 villagers who illegally settled themselves at Ensangu and Lochard farms in Shangani, Insiza district, are facing eviction as the government seeks to address the issue of chaotic settlements, which happened on white-owned land at the height of the controversial land reform programme.
Over 2 000 families who settled at Lochard Farm were in 2015 declared as land invaders and directed by government to move out of the farm, but have defied the order. Around 3 000 settled at Ensangu Farm are also being targeted for eviction. Almost 2 000 families from both farms have since received notices from the Lands ministry to vacate the farms.
Chief Jahana, under whose jurisdiction the areas fall, confirmed that those affected were people who had bought pieces of land from some unscrupulous land barons.
“People who are involved are those who bought land from land barons,” Chief Jahana said.
Insiza Rural district administrator Sibusiso Maphosa could neither confirm nor deny that settlers were being evicted, but indicated that the evictions were national, and were meant to address the current land anomalies.
“Where are they getting those letters from? If they are from the Lands ministry, then you should contact the right offices or else I may end up commenting on issues I am not supposed to comment on,” Maphosa said.
“But what I know is that it is a government programme which is happening at national level.”
Lands and Agriculture minister Perrance Shiri and the permanent secretary in the ministry Ringson Chitsiko could not be reached for comment.
Former Insiza Rural District Council chairman Daniel Mpofu said the settlers at Lochard were recently ordered off the land, but had remained at the farm.
“I think what makes these people remain at the farm is that most of them bought land from the land barons, who are Zanu PF top members and some of them bought using cattle, and someone cannot just vacate when he lost cattle to get that land,” he said.
Chief Jahana recently petitioned President Emmerson Mnangagwa to rein on Zanu PF district officials over the illegal selling of State land that was meant for resettlement under the land reform programme in ward 22.