Stop Rural Forced Evictions in Zimbabwe

/On 8 January 2019, 1,000 families from Mzaro Farm in Masvingo West were served eviction orders signed by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement. The deadline for eviction was set for seven days later, on 15 January 2019. However, as of 4 February 2019 the inhabitants remain on their land.

The order cited violation of section 3 of the Gazetted Lands (Consequential Provisions) Act Chapter 20:28, claiming that residents are occupying land without lawful authority. Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Ezra Chadzamira blamed village leaders and land officials who illegally parceled out state lands to residents in return for kickbacks, urging those who paid for land to report those people to the police as it is unlawful to sell land in Zimbabwe.

Residents have lived at Mzaro Farm since 2000, having occupied the land at the height of the country’s land reform program, and have built permanent structures on the land. Some villagers insist that they already have regularized their residency with the Ministry and pay taxes. The government has not offered compensation or alternative location for resettlement.

The land in question is in the catchment area of the Mutirikwi Dam. Chadzamira has stated that the primary target for eviction are those who settled illegally around major dams, in order to prevent further siltation of the reservoirs, which the government blames on overpopulation and uncontrolled land settlement. According to a village leader, some community members settled at Mzaro Farm prior to the dam’s construction as part of a land concession, which allowed them to settle where they currently reside, at a prescribed distance from the catchment area.

In a similar incident in Chiredzi District, the Ministry of Lands along with the local District Administrator plan to resettle over 10,000 people in Feversham, Arda Magudu, Mutirikwi Section, Wasara Wasara, Chegwite, and properties in the Save Valley Conservancy (Lavanga, Masapasi, Angus and Mukazi). The planned operation will target for eviction those who do not hold offer letters and otherwise settled without government authorization. The evictions are cited as required because the settlement contravenes Section 3 of the Gazetted Lands Act Chapter 20:28 directive through the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement. Minister Chadzamira confirmed that more than 2000 families are facing eviction.

Source: Zimbabwe People’s Land Rights Movement

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