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Mabelreign illegal settlers’ homes face demolition
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Mabelreign illegal settlers’ homes face demolition

Oscar J Jeke

As the war against land barons in both urban and rural areas continues, government says it is illegal to sell, lease with option to purchase all State or council land, as the function is the prerogative of local planning authorities.

This follows consultations between the Local Government and Public Works Minister, Winston Chitando, his deputy and Permanent Secretary as well as high-level officials from the City of Harare, including Mayor, Jacob Mafume, National Assembly Member for Harare West, Joana Mamombe and some ward 16 residents, which covers Mabelreign.

In a statement seen by Zim Now, Minister Chitando said that it is illegal to parcel out State land and council land as that power only rests with authorised Ministry and council personnel.

“It was brought to our attention that there have been and continue to be illegal invasion of greenway spaces in Mabelreign, on State land and council land led by land and space barons. I want to make it abundantly clear that Government’s position is that it is illegal to parcel out State land and council land for whatever purpose, which responsibility is bestowed only on local planning authorities,” Minister Chitando said.

Reports are that demolitions of the illegal settlements in Mabelreign will start on Thursday.

Villagers from Mushandike Resettlement Area in Masvingo were recently arrested and demolished their own homes where they had lived since 2002, with the majority being forced to move to Bhuka Business Centre where they now rent rooms.

Meanwhile, police have confirmed over 3 775 arrests in the period from January to 12 February with 985 convictions and 3 360 cases pending trial under the “No to Land Barons and Illegal Settlements” operation initiated by the government.

In a statement posted on X, National Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, said that the arrests were made countrywide with notable provinces of Masvingo, Mashonaland West, and Matabeleland North and South having the most number of arrests.

“Notable arrests have been made in Masvingo where 28 suspects were accounted for in Tokwane-Ngundu Resettlement. The suspects had illegally settled on the grazing lands, without the authority of the Ministry of Land, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural development,” Ass Comm Nyathi said.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights has filed an appeal on behalf of the Mushandike Resettlement Area villagers, seeking to suspend their eviction from the land.

ZLHR is also representing villagers from Mahachi and Munyokowere villages in Chipinge, Manicaland Province who were arrested for illegally occupying land.

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