FOLLOWING President Robert Mugabe’s assenting to the Gazetted Land (Consequential Provisions) Bill, government plans to evict nearly 50 A2 farmer
s in Mashonaland West, some of whom were arrested this week following skirmishes with a senior Zanu PF official in the area.
The new legislation dictates that “no person may hold, use or occupy gazetted land without lawful authority” and provides that former farm owners or occupiers who violate the law are “liable to a fine not exceeding level seven or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or both”.
Resettled farmers have in the past four years been protected from eviction by the Land Occupiers (Protection from Eviction) Act. The Act was repealed by the new legislation giving government powers to evict resettled farmers, even those who hold offer letters.
In an interview yesterday, Mashonaland West provincial governor Nelson Samkange said a land committee had recommended to government the eviction of the A2 farmers from Impalavale Farm near Kadoma after an audit by the Lands Inspectorate established that they were underutilising land and vandalising irrigation equipment.
Samkange added that Kadoma businessman and Zanu PF central committee member Jamaya Muduuri who owns a portion of the farm had made the recommendation.
The governor said the request had been forwarded to the National Security, Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement ministry which is yet to make a decision on whether the people should be evicted or not.
“There was an audit there and it was established that the people were underutilising land and vandalising irrigation equipment,” Samkange said.
“The land is not for drinking beer. If you are not planting, it will be taken from you and the law allows that,” Samkange said.
The governor said currently there was “replanning and reorganisation” and besides those who were going to lose their land for failing to use it, others would get reduced portions if found to be failing to fully use their bigger portions.
He added: “There is a misconception that everyone should get land. Somewhere for you to live yes, but there is no nation in the world made up of farmers, others should be in industry.”
On the detention of farmers by police on Tuesday, Samkange said the law enforcement agents were called in after the farmers became violent and barred Muduuri from his property. The farmers accused Muduuri of engineering their eviction for him to extend his plot.
It could not be established whether the farmers who were detained at Battlefields police station in the same province had been charged.
Asked what would happen to those A2 farmers who had offer letters, the governor responded: “The law provides that the minister can withdraw an offer letter if you are not producing. We need to feed this nation.”
Muduuri refused to comment.
Last week President Mugabe issued 99-year leases to 125 A2 farmers which the government said would give them security of tenure.
On Wednesday the MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai said leases alone would not guarantee increased food production because of government’s bungling.
It said the leases had been given out mostly to incompetent people with Zanu PF connections.
“The granting of 99-year leases mostly to incompetent farmers will not guarantee us a bumper harvest,” said Vincent Gwaradzimba, the party’s deputy secretary for lands and agriculture.