By Nhau Mangirazi
KAROI– Government is making final logistics after availing resources to evict illegal settlers who benefited land in a corrupt manner that manifested in Hurungwe within Mashonaland West province here.
Speaking during an interface meeting with heads of departments, policymakers including councillors and Members of Parliament within Hurungwe district on Wednesday, provincial resident minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka said ‘corruption in land allocation is now a cancer’ that must be uprooted and stopped in agriculture sector.
‘Hurungwe administrative district has more cases of illegal settlers who were forced into some farms through corruption by some individuals and politicians. As much as we are under-resourced financially due to economic woes affecting the whole nation, Government has managed to get resources to evict illegals settlers around Hurungwe district and other places within the province,’ said Mliswa-Chikoka.
She revealed that some of the suspected illegal settlers were allocated land during the height of election fever where some politicians who used their muscle to acquire grazing pastures for domestic animals.
‘This is totally unacceptable in Hurungwe that is agro-based but we are not tapping on our natural resources such as land. We have individuals who are breeding the corruption cancer but we can’t allow it to manifest forever. Due to corruption where land has been abused for personal enrichment, we must shun abuse of power, if we want to be progressive,’ she added.
Mliswa-Chikoka said corruption is intertwined in different public departments
‘We must have zero tolerance to corruption. Many departments including lands, Arex, Ministry of Women Affairs are worse in Hurungwe and all we are saying is reform or you will be expelled with a criminal record,’ she said during a frank and candid meeting here.
However, the meeting that was not different from ruling party talk shows on corruption became divisive after a lands officer said they are no longer working on land disputes.
“Land issues are now under Zimbabwe Land Commission and we have not done much about these conflicts around here,” said the officer.
But Mliswa-Chikoka was not amused by the response calling that the land audit will expose illegal settlers who must face eviction.
She could not reveal how much was allocated for the exercise and when it kick off ahead of the ongoing farming season.
‘The eviction is running together with latest land audit that has exposed illegal settlers around Hurungwe and Government will act. If you are one of those who facilitated land to these illegal settlers go and tell them to go back from where they came from, be it Gokwe or wherever,’ said the minister.
Ironically, outgoing Hurungwe East Member of Parliament and opposition National Patriotic Front losing candidate Sarah Mahoka originally is from Gokwe and is among those suspected of allocating illegal farmers plots in grazing pastures.
Mahoka denied any wrongdoing.
‘I never worked in any Government department and did not allocate land to anyone,’ said Mahoka in a telephone interview.
The latest confirmation of land audit is one of several audits that Government has carried out but has failed to yield positive results because of ‘forged’ tongue by ruling party and Government officials.