Fresh agriculture disruption fears as gvt promises 15 000ha of land to war vets

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By Mashonaland East Correspondent

GOVERNMENT has promised veterans of the liberation struggle as much as 15 000ha of land, it has emerged.

Sources in government claim Agriculture Minister Perrance Shiri has ordered Provincial Ministers to set aside land to appease restless war veterans in a move expected to bring fresh anxiety to the struggling agricultural sector.

In a letter last month to all Provincial Ministers, Shiri commanded them to identify land in their respective provinces for specific allocation to ex-combatants only.

However, the Minister’s directive excludes Harare and Bulawayo provinces.

“In line with the noble objective of empowering veterans of the liberation struggle, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement is mandated to prioritise allocation of land to the gallant sons and daughters of Zimbabwe who participated in the protracted struggle for the liberation of the country,” said the former Airforce chief.

In the letter, the minister instructed Resident Ministers in Matebeleland North and South, and Masvingo provinces to identify 3 000 hectares each for allocation to the war veterans; Midlands, 2 000 hectares while Manicaland and Mashonaland East, West and Central provinces, 1 000 hectares each.

“The said mandate of this ministry compels you, Hon. Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs to play your important role of identifying and prioritising the allocation of land in your respective provinces,” Shiri added.

In the letter, the Provincial Ministers were given up to last Thursday to furnish Shiri with their respective allocation schedules.

“Take note that the subject directive should be implemented with immediate effect as it takes precedence over all other allocations for land. May you further kindly take note that in the event of land disputes, under no circumstances should a war veteran have his or her offer letter cancelled,” said Shiri in the letter.

Repeated efforts to get a comment from Mashonaland East minister, Apolonia Munzwerengwi on whether her office had managed to comply with Shiri’s directive were fruitless as she was reported to be out of office.

Combative war veterans were instrumental in the controversial land invasions in 2000 and the majority of them were allocated pieces under the chaotic programme now blamed for the country’s economic problems.