Land wrangle rocks Beatrice


HARARE – Beatrice farmers are embroiled in farm disputes, as black on black invasions take centre stage, amid claims of corruption and unfair distribution of land.

Resettled farmers in Braemar, Gilston and Kimcot farms fingered Brighton Gumbire as the cause of the current disturbances in the area, a claim he denied.

“We went to the ministry of Lands in Marondera and we have a list of names of people who should be allocated land. On the list there are members from the President’s office, the police, the Central Intelligence Organisation, soldiers and war veterans,” Gumbire said.

He said his proposal was for occupants to be allocated seven hectares as opposed to 50 hectares per person, in a bid to ensure more people benefit from the land reform programme.

“It’s a fight between farmers. They want to benefit as a few but we want to benefit as a whole,” Gumbire said, adding residents were fabricating issues against him.

The farmers who refused to be named fearing victimisation claim Gumbire was working with the district administrator (DA), Eric Samunda to procure land for a fee.

When contacted for comment,  Samunda refuted the claims, arguing that all the people in the three farms were illegal occupants, since they were not holders of offer letters.

He said there were two groups and it was their intention to have them all removed from the farms.

“It (the invasion) is being dealt with administratively. I am not working with Gumbire,” Samunda said, threatening to sue anyone who tarnishes his image over the issue.

Samunda said an attempt to have the people evicted had failed after the farmers got a High Court interdict, making it impossible for them or the police to act.

He said he had reported the matter to Beatrice Police Station, with farmers making a similar claim.
“To our surprise when we make a police report, no actions are being taken,” one of the farmers who spoke to Daily News on Sunday said.

Beatrice Police Station officer-in-charge, Simon Dube, refused to comment on the issue when contacted by the Daily News on Sunday.

“We cannot talk about work-related issues over the phone,” said Dube before referring all questions to Police General Headquarters.

Some of the farmers who spoke to Daily News on Sunday accused the people being brought into the area for cutting down trees and building illegal structures, adding that the actions were disrupting farming activities in the area.

The occupants now known as “squatters” are also blamed of fuelling theft and prostitution.

One of the residents said the “squatters” were authorising burials of unknown people on the farms.

“They are using the Zanu PF name but they are not in the party structures,” said one of the sources, adding that at some instance they use big names to scare their victims and cementing their actions.

The residents said over 110 illegal settlers had occupied the farms, through Gumbire’s office at the heart of Braemar Farm, known as “Chadya Mukonde”.

The farm, located in Seke District Ward nine on Manyame Rural District Council in the Mashonaland East Province ,was sub-divided into eight A2 farms.

Claims were that some of the home-seekers were coming from Chitungwiza and being  asked to fork out money ranging from $50 to over $200, before being allocated pieces of land.

One of the residents gave an example of Gilston Farm, which he said is now occupied by over 300 families after it was allocated to only 39 households.

The residents appealed to Lands  ministry to act on the issue expeditiously before it gets out of hand.

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