GOVERNMENT has vowed to prosecute people found occupying State land without authority from the responsible ministry, amid concern over an increase in illegal settlements on agricultural land across the country.
In a statement yesterday, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement minister Anxious Masuka said those found occupying State land without authority would be prosecuted.
“It is a criminal offence, in terms of the Zimbabwe Land Commission Act [Chapter 20:29] and the Gazetted Lands Act [Chapter 20:28], to occupy State land without lawful authority in the form of a permit, an offer letter or a lease,” Masuka said.
His ministry is the only government arm authorised to issue tenure documents on agricultural land as it administers relevant Acts assigned to it by the President.
Masuka said land applications should be made to district and provincial lands offices where applicants should get waiting list allocation numbers which are used to track progress.
According to the statement, war veterans have a 20% quota and a separate application register with the same percentage was allocated to youths.
“Land applicants who are recommended for land allocation should wait to get tenure documents before occupying recommended pieces of land,” Masuka said.
He said provincial and devolution affairs ministers who chair the provincial land committees should activate the necessary structures to deter and evict illegal settlers.
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Government, he added, would not regularise people who settle themselves on State land without procedurally being issued tenure documents.
“The public is urged to report those who sell State land to the nearest law enforcement agencies,” he said.