Matabeleland villagers arrested for refusing to leave ‘their’ land

MORE than 400 villagers at Fox Farm in Matobo District were on Wednesday arrested for defying a Government directive to vacate the farm.

When The Chronicle visited the farm, police were loading the villagers into trucks, before taking them to Matopo Police Station after they refused to leave the farm.

The eviction of the villagers is part of an ongoing exercise to ensure that all illegal settlers on agricultural land are removed.

Police ferry the arrested villagers to Matopo Police Station

All illegal settlers on agricultural land were expected to have vacated the properties by October 18.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement, Ambassador Grace Mutandiro, said Government wants all illegal settlers on any agricultural land to vacate it as soon as possible.

“Government embarked on the information dissemination blitz last year in August and we were expecting people to start moving back to their original places then.

“I can’t say much on the programme except that according to the policy and the government’s current position, we expect all illegal settlers on Agricultural land to have moved away by now,” she said.

Acting District Administrator for Matobo District, Mr Obey Chafusira, urged villagers to follow the Government directive.

“The villagers know very well that they are there without the Ministry’s official permission and should therefore move away without waiting to be pushed off.

“We gave them notice to leave on 17 and 18 October and yesterday (Wednesday)’s action was to ensure that they had vacated. It is a government directive which we simply expect villagers to follow,” he said.

Matobo North MP Never Khanye (Zanu-PF) said although there is a Government directive, he was not happy that the people were being displaced.

“These villagers have lived on that land and surely no longer have any other places to go because they are already with their families there. I am in Harare trying to talk officials to consider these people’s plight. They have nowhere to go and I completely understand them,” he said.

Villagers told The Chronicle that they suspect a big wig has been allocated the farm and they were being evicted to pave way for him.

Fox Farm originally belonged to a Mr R Emmert who died in 2009.

He left his employees made up of about 68 households while about 180 other families had also settled at the farm.

Ward 21 Zanu-PF Chairman Robert Moyo said they have lived on the farm for more than 10 years and have nowhere else to go.

“Where does the Government expect these 250 households or more than 800 people to go right away? We had all settled here and have nowhere else to go.

Government needs to consider this eviction issue because moving one from a place they have lived on for so long is a serious disturbance,” he said.

“We are here with our school going children, grandchildren, livestock and everything else belonging to us.”

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