Chief, DA in row over resettlement land

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A simmering dispute over resettlement land in Umzingwane district pitting the area’s traditional leader, Chief Sigola, and the District Administrator (DA), Mildard Khumalo, could spill into the courts as the traditional leader felt “disrespected” and “undermined” by government employees.

According to insiders in the chief’s council, Sigola was mooting taking the issue to the courts over the DA’s threats to evict villagers.

The DA reportedly set tomorrow as the deadline for the new settlers’ eviction.

Three of the chief’s lieutenants — Mlungisi Nyathi, Judah Mkhosi Moyo and Ethan Sibanda — told Newsday tension is high as a result of the dispute.
Moyo said the situation had divided villagers, with some rallying behind the chief while others were backing the DA.

“War veterans have even threatened to beat up the chief, questioning why he was resettling people.
“It is our strongest belief that the DA is benefitting by selling stands and if the chief resettles people, he will not benefit. The chief is even in the process of taking the issue to the court in Esigodini because of all this,” he said.

Nyathi said it would be important to clarify the role of politicians and that of the chief in land redistribution programme in order to find a solution to the stalemate.
“Is the DA the chief of the resettlement programme? We want to invite Chief Fortune Charumbira and the governor (Angeline Masuku) so that this issue is resolved once and for all,” he said.

Chief Charumbira is the president of the Chiefs’ Council.

According to documents in NewsDay’s possession, Masuku attended a meeting on September 5 2011 to resolve the impasse, where she stated that the new settlers were Zimbabweans and must stay on the land given to them.

According to minutes of the meeting, Masuku “advised the land committee to go and see the new stands and correct where necessary”.

Contacted for comment Masuku referred NewsDay to the Umzingwane DA.

“I think you have to talk to the DA in Umzingwane,” she said.

But Khumalo said as far as he was concerned, “there was nothing called the Chiefs’ Council”.

“All the land under the resettlement programme is under the District Land Committee with 16 members chaired by the DA and the chief is part of it.

“It seems as if the chief wants to do things alone without any technical input and these men (chief’s council) are the ones who are going around pegging stands without any knowledge of doing it,” he said.