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Little England settlers booted out

Augustine Mukaro

THE government has started to evict settlers from the controversial Little England Farm to pave way for people from State House and Murombedzi communal lands.

face=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Court documents show that about 430 settlers on the farm have been served with summons requiring them to leave the farm to make room for 51 families that were allocated the same farm.

The intended new settlers have given “State House” and Murombedzi as their addresses. State House is the official residence of President Robert Mugabe.

The documents served on the settlers show that Special Affairs minister in the President’s Office responsible for Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement, John Nkomo, wants them to leave. Nkomo is seeking a court order to evict the settlers who invaded Little England farm in 2000.

However, settlers have filed opposing papers. The settlers last October secured a High Court order interdicting government from evicting them until such a time as they were properly resettled.

But Nkomo has renewed government attempts to get them off the farm.

“The defendant (Freddy Munjoma who is the leader of the settlers) is not protected by the Rural Land Occupiers Act by virtue of occupying the farm after March 1, 2001,” Nkomo’s application says.

The summons claims that the farm was designated for resettlement on the A2 model. However, Little England has been occupied by A1 settlers since the inception of the often-chaotic land reform exercise five years ago.

“The farm is designated for the A2 model where it will be divided into 51 plots,” the summons said, adding that “the plaintiff (Nkomo) has already identified suitable people to occupy the plots from the waiting list.”

Nkomo provided two annexures as lists of the people identified to occupy Little England. The addresses for the new occupiers have been given as State House and Murombedzi.

Little England, Inkomo Farm and six others near Darwendale became a centre of controversy in October when police set ablaze settlers homes and forced the new farmers to leave so that the farm could be reallocated to A2 farmers.

The families had lived at the farm for the past five years, when farm invasions started. The displaced families ended up staying on the roadside and in disused tobacco barns.

The settlers accused government of cheating and abusing poor peasants in farm invasions only for the farms to be handed over to a select few.

Government had encouraged the settlers to invade the farms even though they did not have offer letters.

During evictions of the new farmers police have been demanding to see offer letters which the settlers do not have.

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