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Land barons parcel out land for US$3

By Tendai Gukutikwa

Hundreds of land seekers in Mutare were duped of amounts ranging from US$3 to US$50 as land barons parcelled out the State land at Credon Farm in Dora and Nevada Farm at Arda Transau. The prices depended on the size of the land one was supposedly getting, with stand sizes averaging 200 square metres.

Relocated families at Arda Transau
File picture of relocated families at Arda Transau

No receipts of the transactions were being issued as names of the beneficiaries were being written in an A5 exercise book.

Godfrey Mukwekwe, Mukono Mujeke and Gabriel Chirochepi were operating at Credon Farm while Owen Bvirindi and Noel Bvirindi were operating at Nevada Farm.

Both farms are communal land.

The five suspected land barons have since been arrested and were expected to appear in court yesterday (Thursday).

In their operation, the Bvirindi brothers were allegedly using a letter signed in 1985 by the then Minister of Lands, Resettlement and Rural Development, the late national hero, Cde Moven Mahachi in which he was appealing to the then Manicaland Governor, Bishop Joshua Dube, not to evict the 700 families that had been settled by the Government on Nevada farm.

The Manica Post is in possession of a copy of the letter. The brothers were using the letter to claim ownership of the farm.

Another Bvirindi, Zacharia, also lost some land to his brothers.

He said Mutare urban residents were the bulk of the victims as they out bided their rural counterparts.

“People from Chikanga and Hobhouse, Mutare, were among those who flocked to buy the land. They were being charged give away prices of between US$30 and US$50 for about 200 square metres of land; while some of the rural folk paid as low as US$3.

“Part of the land that was being sold is our family land inherited from our late father. I tried talking to my brothers but they would not listen as they were only concerned with pocketing the money. We had to report the issue to the local councillor and the police. The law enforcement agents sprang into action and arrested them,” said Zacharia.

Police said investigations are in progress, while Mutare District Development Coordinator, Mr Wilson Bore, confirmed the unfortunate incident. He said responsible authorities moved in swiftly to stop the scam before more people were swindled.

“It was brought to our attention that there were individuals parcelling out stands at the said farms and we swiftly intervened. The individuals were using their paces to measure the land. That alone should have raised alarm among the land seekers.

“The squatter camp at Credon Farm was still in its infancy as no permanent structures had been erected yet. We salute law enforcement agents and the other Government departments for descending on the suspected land barons swiftly. If no action had been taken, more people would have lost their hard-earned cash to these land barons,” said Mr Bore.He said the net is closing in on more Nevada Farm land barons.

“Selling State land is a criminal offence and we do not tolerate such actions. Those involved in such dealings should know that their days are numbered. They will be arrested and brought to book,” he said.

Mutare Rural District Council Ward Three Councillor Moses Mujaji said a number of people had been pulling down the cabins they had erected at Nevada Farm from Tuesday upon realising that the land barons had been arrested.

“At least 20 people pulled down their cabins after hearing that the five land barons had been picked up by the police,” he said. The Manica Post

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