Govt forced to conduct land audit

The government has been forced to hurriedly conduct a land audit in Masvingo East farming area as an ownership dispute between evicted villagers and the new owners continues to rage.

Police, who forced the villagers out of their homes following a court order, have been withdrawn pending the probe.

The villagers, now camped in nearby mountains, say they arrived at the farms at the height of the chaotic invasions a decade ago and had since turned the place into their home.

The audit was called after allegations that some senior Zanu (PF) officials were terrorizing vulnerable residents to claim the farms for themselves.

Agriculture minister Douglas Mombeshora last week toured the troubled area and, after listening to both sides, concluded that a land audit was the only way forward. Evicted villagers had pointed the finger at some high-ranking government officials in Zanu (PF) as the source of their woes.

“We have the names of people who grabbed these farms and they now want us, the pioneers of the land invasion, to leave,” said a spokesperson for the villagers. “We participated in the liberation war and we are prepared to fight another new war. You cannot remove a fellow black (Zimbabwean) to resettle a fellow black. This is what is now happening here and we are saying a big no to this.” “We have the names of people who grabbed these farms

The government had ordered the eviction of the villagers on the grounds that they had invaded black-owned properties.

Mombeshora promised to clear the air within a week: “We want to know who is on which land; and when he acquired that farm,” he said.

The government has targeted 3,000 illegal settlers for eviction throughout Masvingo before the onset of the rains.

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