BY SILAS NKALA

A FORMER Zanu PF top official has warned government against the eviction of illegal settlers across the country, saying the move will make the ruling party and government unpopular.

Jabulani Phetshu Sibanda, a former Zanu PF Matabeleland South secretary for lands and a Zipra war veteran, said illegal land occupations were rising due to the economic crisis in the country which has resulted in urban-to-rural migration.

Sibanda’s remarks come at a time when over 5 000 villagers, who illegally settled themselves at Ensangu and Lochard farms in Shangani, Insiza district, are facing eviction as the government seeks to address the issue of chaotic settlements.

Over 2 000 families who settled at Lochard Farm were in 2015 declared as land invaders and directed by government to move out of the farm, but have defied the order.
Around 3 000, settled at Ensangu Farm, also face eviction.

Almost 2 000 families from both farms have since received notices from the Lands ministry to vacate the farms.

Insiza Rural district administrator Sibusiso Maphosa recently said the evictions were a national programme and meant to address land anomalies.

Sibanda, who is one of the pioneers of the farm occupations in Matabeleland provinces, warned that the government’s new land evictions would render it unpopular and strengthen the opposition.

“The economic situation is forcing people out of towns. The whole country is affected by the exodus of people from urban areas (as people) go to look for cheaper land in rural areas.

Now, if we start evicting them, where do we want them to go? These evictions will give advantage to the opposition even though it will also not do anything about it,” he said
“People are looking up to this government and the party to address the problems and if they ignore dealing with the problem, the situation will deteriorate.”