Jomic warns of land clashes in Matabeleland

Resettling of people from outside Matabeleland at the expense of locals could stir violence of unimaginable proportions if not urgently looked into, the co- Chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic), Welshman Ncube, has warned.
Ncube, who doubles up as the Minister of Industry and Commerce, was commenting on sentiments aired by traditional leaders from Matabeleland North and South provinces at a Jomic-organised meeting.
The traditional leaders complained they had been robbed of their role as custodians of the land.
They charged that land committees established by government were mismanaging the allocation of land resulting in people from outside their areas being resettled at the expense of equally deserving locals.
In some instances, those that had been driven off their land during the colonial era had failed to reclaim their heritage, which was the core purpose of the land reform programme, the chiefs said.
They cited the case of Chief Jahana of Gokwe who was facing problems returning to Debshan in Insiza with his people where they were removed in 1965.
“The land issue is an important issue and if you look at the GPA, you will realise that it takes up quite a chunk of the document. It’s an emotional subject,” Ncube said.
“The Boers took our land, making us leave the graves of our ancestors, and now that the land has been re-claimed under the land reform programme, we should be resettled back on our original land.
“How is it that other people are being taken from elsewhere to come and be resettled here?
“We should sort that out. If the issue is not resolved, it will degenarate to the levels of the violence that we saw in the streets of Kenya where neighbours were killing each other with machetes. We should not allow that issue to spiral out of control.” He urged traditional leaders to “speak freely’’ on the matter and to even consider crafting provisions in the constitution that would deal with such anomalies. Recently, there was an uproar in Umguza constituency, Matabeleland North, over the ‘‘invasion’’ of the area by people from as far as Mashonaland.
The traditional leaders led by President of the Chiefs Council Senator Fortune Charumbira called for the disbanding of land committees and that the allocation of land be returned to traditional leaders.
“Land belongs to the Chiefs. That power of the chiefs was taken away from us in a criminal manner during the colonial era. Now that we have had land reform, we should have full power over the land,” Charumbira said.
“Land committees were put in place because it was an issue of crisis management. They should now be disbanded. If there are commercial farms you have to beg for an offer letter from a district administrator or provincial administrator.
“We are in those committees as beggars with no power of influence. Those committees are not chaired by traditional leaders.
“We should be shown respect as traditional leaders by being given back our powers to allocate land.’’
Earlier a member of Jomic from Zanu-PF, Kembo Mohadi, who is also the co-Minister of Home Affairs had told traditional leaders that they were being accused of politicising food distribution and land allocation, allegations they refuted.
Responding to concerns over rampant cases of stock theft in Matabeleland, Mohadi said he had also lost 450 cattle to rustlers.
He said in Matabeleland South there were cattle rustling syndicates which, in some instances, were assisted by unscrupulous police officers and some traditional leaders.

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