Some 5,000 families in Zimbabwe's southeast province of Masvingo have invaded farms and wildlife conservancies, among them thousands of members of an apostolic sect, and refused to budge despite pressure from police and the national Land Inspectorate.
A recent visit to Chiredzi by Land Inspectorate officials, led by Deputy Commissioner of Police Godwin Matanga, failed to convince the invaders to move off the properties – most of which are sugar cane plantations in the tropical lowveld part of Zimbabwe.
Chiredzi West lawmaker Moses Mare told VOA reporter Chris Gande the farm invasions have reduced national sugar production by more than 70 percent.
Edward Mkhosi, a member of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee set up to track compliance by Zimbabwe political parties with the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing, said JOMIC has urged an immediate end to such invasions.
There were 4,000 mainly white-owned commercial farms in Zimbabwe when President Robert Mugabe launched a disorderly and often violent land reform program that most observers say devastated the country's agricultural sector. Today there are a few hundred white-owned commercial farms, many of them still under pressure from invaders.