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Chiefs lead revolt against governor

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CHIREDZI — Two traditional chiefs yesterday led about 1 000 villagers in a demonstration against Masvingo governor Titus Maluleke and Chiredzi district administrator Clara Muzenda accusing the pair of excluding them in the allocation of sugarcane plots.

Chiefs Tshovani, born Mkachana Mundawu, and Chief Gudo, born Paul Manjira, said they had decided to protest after they were left out in the allocation of the plots.

Sugarcane farming is a lucrative business in the Lowveld with out- growers forming the backbone of Masvingo’s economy.

“We decided to take to the streets because of our exclusion from getting land here,” Chief Tshovani said.

“We realised we were short-changed. Out of about 860 beneficiaries, only 24 people from around got sugarcane-growing plots, yet we constitute about 800 000 villagers.

“Even the three chiefs in Chiredzi district – Tshovani, Sengwe and Gudo — are yet to benefit, yet chiefs from other areas were allocated land.”

Chief Gudo said President Robert Mugabe had directed that locals be given first priority in
another phase with about 8 000 hectares, but Maluleke and Muzenda defied the order and “attempted to bribe” them by allocating plots to the traditional leaders only.

“We approached the President as a last resort after meeting the governor and Vice-President Joice Mujuru last year,” he said.

“The President gave us the go-ahead, but we are surprised by Maluleke. Who is he to go against the wishes of the President?

“We were surprised to be called by Muzenda saying she wanted to give us land, so we came with the people on our list of beneficiaries, only to be told that she wanted to give just the chiefs. But we cannot betray our people.”

Several demonstrators picketed Muzenda’s offices while others were said to have invaded Maluleke’s plot in Hippo Valley.

“Other protesters have camped at his plot so that we share his land until we are allocated.

“That will be the language he (Maluleke) will best understand as we are hungry while he is full,” Chief Gudo said.

“He gave his son George 1 300 hectares, as well as his son-in-law 300 hectares, yet we have nothing.

Chief Tsvovani added: “We are not going to stop until our people also benefit because this is our area, we have nowhere to call home.”

Maluleke could not be reached for comment as his mobile phone went unanswered.

Muzenda was said to be attending a meeting in Harare.

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