War vets, minister lock horns

The Zanu PF youths were allocated land in the timber and wildlife-rich Emmergroon Estate in Gwayi area by Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs minister, Richard Moyo.

WAR veterans who were allocated conservancies in the wildlife-rich Gwayi area Matabeleland North, have expressed fears of a foot and mouth disease outbreak after Zanu PF youths were settled on their grazing lands recently.

The Zanu PF youths were allocated land in the timber and wildlife-rich Emmergroon Estate in Gwayi area by Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs minister, Richard Moyo.

In 2001, government allocated A1 farmers who included war veterans the communal wildlife conservancies in the estate located along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway in the Gwayi area.

The farmers were also allocated communal land for cattle grazing and smallholder farming.

However, at least 140 youths have since been allocated at least 10 hectares each on grazing lands belonging to the A1 farmers, forcing their cattle to stray into conservancies in search of pastures.

This has sparked fears of a foot and mouth disease outbreak.

A concerned war veteran who has been affected appealed to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and other Zanu PF top party leadership to intervene to stop the land grabs.

He also said the farm invasions by the Zanu PF youths will affect their hunting quarters next year.

“So the farmers obviously are going to experience cross grazing by cattle and wildlife,” he said speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Once that happens, it will also affect hunting quarters because the mixture of cattle and wildlife is not best in hunting circles...there are diseases that may be transmitted between the wildlife and the cattle."

He added: “It will be difficult for us to get a hunting quarter at the National Park.

“There is also the issue of human activity once they have cattle in an area, the success rate of hunting is negatively affected.”

Another farmer also expressed fears of poaching of their wildlife.

“We cannot rule out poaching because once there is human activity, guys heading those cattle may target our livestock,” the farmer said.

The farmers questioned why Moyo, who is also the Zanu PF Matabeleland North chairperson, did not consult them before allocating the youth their pieces of land.

Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association Matabeleland North provincial chairperson Jonathan Nkanyezi Sibanda also spoke out against the farm invasions.

 “This issue is really traumatizing us,” Sibanda said.

“Some people don’t want war veterans in farms and they include village heads and top Zanu PF officials.

“Now we have these Zanu PF youths all the way from Bulawayo that have been brought here to settle on our grazing lands without our consultation.”

Sibanda also said their grazing lands had been invaded.

“The war veterans are resisting and a meeting was held just last week to reverse the farm invasion,” he said.

Sibanda claimed that Moyo often name-drops the president’s name to justify the land invasion.

“He is trying to scare the people saying it’s the president who gave the greenlight for the youth to be allocated land here,” he said.

Moyo, however, when contacted for comment said war veterans complaining  about the land redistribution to the youth must approach his office.

“Please don’t talk to me about this issue, I am now tired about of being asked  about this,” he said.

“I don’t want to comment on government issues, which are straightforward.

“I have told them that if they have a problem or an issue, they must come to our offices.”

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