Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Manicaland Bureau
More than 6 000 illegal settlers in Manicaland have been served with eviction letters, as Government seeks to remove people who invaded timber plantations, causing significant destruction in the country’s timber stock.
Over the past decades, almost 20 000 hectares of timber plantations have been occupied by settlers who have cleared land for agriculture and firewood while some have been engaging in illegal mining activities which have disrupted timber production.
Government has since embarked on an exercse to evict the illegal settlers across the country as part of efforts to restore the industry.
Presenting a report on land administration and management recently, Mr Tendai Chimunhu, an officer in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, said Government would have land to resettle the settlers once the land audit being carried out was complete.
“In Manicaland, we have 6 532 illegal settlers who were served with eviction notices. Of this number, only 47 have moved voluntarily so far,” he said.
“The Ministry of Lands is seized with the process of identifying land for resettlement and this will be done once the land audit is complete. We are now conducting the second phase of the land audit in Makoni district and we hope to find land for these settlers who were given notices.”
Forests, timber plantations included, play a major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
As a signatory to the Paris Agreement, Zimbabwe has committed to reducing these emissions by 33 percent by 2030.
According to recent research commissioned by the Climate Change Management Department in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), agriculture, mining, settlement expansion, forest fires, tobacco curing, timber extraction and firewood collection have been identified as some of the biggest drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe, therefore, needs a rigorous forestation and reforestation drive if it is to reach its target of increasing forest cover to 46 percent from the current 36 percent by 2030.
Meanwhile, a report for contempt of court has been filed against a Chipinge man for invading a farm, in one of the latest land ownership wrangles in the area, reports Ray Bande.
Malvin Harare is accused of invading land belonging to Silas Matangi despite a standing court order that barred him from occupying the piece of land.
“The respondent or his agent or representatives be and is hereby interdicted and or barred from visiting, or do any activity whatsoever for the purposes of which is to interfere with applicants’ full control and enjoyment of his farm being Plot 3 Letisville, Chipinge,” reads the court order that outlawed Harare’s continued occupation of the piece of land.
“Respondent or his agent or representatives be and is hereby barred or interdicted from clearing land or carry out any activity whatsoever or sent people or workers to carry out any activity whatsoever to applicants’ farm being farm being Plot 3 Letisville, Chipinge.”
In his application to the court that culminated into issuing of the interdict in December last year, Matangi argued that: “I confirm that to date I have not had my allocation and occupation revoked.
This confirms that I am the owner with the right title and interest thereon.
“However, the respondent has since the beginning of November 2018 continuously come to my plot and harassing my caretaker Howard Sithole, claiming that the plot is his.”
Mr Matangi said Mr Harare had cleared his land and chased away his caretaker, claiming that he bought the land.
“However, I have not sold my plot to anyone at all and in any way,” he said. “In any event, I have no right to sell the land as I am advised that all land belongs to the State . . .” he said.