Settlers face eviction

Illegal settlers at Burma Park have vowed not move off the land they are occupying despite an eviction order issued by government officials and threats from armed police over the weekend.

Children fetching water.
Children fetching water.

They said government should give them alternative land before it evicted them.

Armed Support Unit police officers, Environmental Management Agency, prison services and officials from government visited Burma Park and issued an eviction order to all settlers. They were threatened with violent eviction at the end of April.

“We are not going anywhere because we don’t have anywhere to go. We are not squatters – as alleged by the police. We were officially allocated land by government. I can even show you my offer letter. We are not afraid of police. If they want war let’s have war,” said one settler who declined to be named.

The settlers are shouldering the blame on Zanu (PF) politicians who allocated them land in the run up to 2000 elections. “We were the first people to be allocated land here by government and its nonsense to tell us to leave this area. Where do we go with our children and livestock?” asked EnockBandama who came fromHonde Valley some 10 years ago.

The settlers said they had the backing of their traditional leader, Chief Milton Chigodora.

“The chief assured that nothing will happen. The police should not just rush to evict us but should also talk with our chief,” said another settler.

The EMA has accused settlers of destroying the fragile environment through use of unfriendly farming methods, which have led to rivers silting up.

During a media tour last year, a representative of Mutare District Administrator, Brighton Mangoma, said the illegal settlers were “mischievous and greedy people” because they were given alternative land for farming but for some reason had abandoned that land and illegally settled themselves in protected areas.

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