Government has strongly warned unruly elements reportedly taking the law into their own hands by illegally occupying State land, saying the offenders will be dealt with accordingly.
In a statement yesterday, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement Ambassador Grace Mutandiro said the occupation of State land without lawful authority was illegal.
“The ministry is receiving disturbing reports of some people taking the law into their own hands and moving on to occupy State land without lawful authority, and, in some cases, land already properly allocated to other beneficiaries,” said Ambassador Mutandiro.
“Accordingly, the ministry wishes to inform the general public, in particular those residing in resettlement areas that any disregard to the above directive will be dealt with strongly in terms of the law and the precepts of Operation Restore Legacy.
“Those who are beneficiaries of the land reform risk losing their allocated pieces of land if found to be party to illegal occupation of other people’s properties in their neighbourhood or elsewhere.
“Land beneficiaries holding offer letters, but not yet in occupation of allocated land should follow due process in consultation with the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement. The Gazetted Land (Consequential Provisions) Act Chapter (20:28), Section 3 (1) criminalises the occupation of State land without lawful authority. Lawful authority is defined as offer letter, permit or lease.”
Ambassador Mutandiro urged the public to maintain peace and order.
“The Ministry is, therefore, urging members of the public to maintain the peace that has been prevailing since the onset of Operation Restore Legacy,” she said. “All Provincial Resettlement Officers and the general public are urged to report incidents of self-help that may occur so that appropriate action is taken immediately.”
In his inauguration speech on Friday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa exhorted people to readily embrace each other in defining a new destiny, stating that the task at hand was of re-building the country.
Ambassador Mutandiro said: “Regarding Land Reform Programme, he (President Mnangagwa) highlighted that ownership and management of this key resource is central to national stability and to sustained economic recovery.
“We do not prevaricate on this issue. Beneficiaries of the land reform programme are called upon to demonstrate commitment to the utilisation of the land for national food security and for the recovery of our economy.”