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Bulawayo council farm invaded

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A NUMBER of settlers have invaded the Bulawayo City Council-owned Dunstal Farm, joining several others who illegally set up base on the property in 2019.

LIZWE SEBATHA

Three years ago, an estimated 50 settlers invaded Sub-division A of the farm, on the outskirts of the city, and they have stayed put despite a 2021 High Court order directing them to vacate.

Reports indicate that the number of illegal settlers has been increasing.

In January this year, they encroached on Dunkirk Farm which is under Umguza Rural District, pegging out plots, but they were immediately chased away and their property burnt.

Council’s Dunstal Farm is sub-divided into 159 small plots averaging two hectares leased to tenants.

Some of the tenants include current deputy mayor Mlandu Ncube who was given a 25-year lease in 2015 for 10 hectares on plot number 74 of the property.

“Dunstal Council Farm was invaded in 2019 and the number of the illegal settlers was estimated to be 50 and was increasing every day. The eviction of these squatters was in the courts and their removal was imminent,” a report by council’s housing and education committee reads in part.

It emerged that land seekers have to part with almost US$100 to secure a portion of land from syndicates behind the invasion of the council-owned farm.

In 2014, Zanu PF youths invaded the council-run Mazwi nature reserve, located near Old Pumula high-density suburb, parcelled out pieces of land to over 3 000 people.

Hundreds of other land seekers on the waiting list were made to pay varying amounts to the youth leaders involved in the Mazwi nature reserve land grab before their arrest and imprisonment.

The Mazwi game reserve is owned by the local authority through its commercial division.

Cobtacted for comment, Bulawayo town clerk Christopher Dube professed ignorance on the goings-on at Dunstal Farm. He referred The NewsHawks to the city’s housing director, Dictor Khumalo.

Khumalo said he was also unaware and referred questions to the public relations department. There was no response to  emailed questions.

Indications are that part of the farm is leased out to some officials in council management for grazing purposes.

Auditor-General Mildred Chiri has in the past exposed how council is losing potential revenue from unbilled properties lying idle, unoccupied, and not registered in the valuation rolls.

In 2013, council courted controversy after it allocated two hectares of the farm to then mayor Thaba Moyo for a measly $45 per month for five years.

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