Friday, July 09, 2010

(NEWZIMBABWE) War vetarans arrested in Matabeleland land wars

War vetarans arrested in Matabeleland land wars
by Lindie Whiz
08/07/2010 00:00:00

TWO war veterans have been arrested in Matabeleland North province amid rising tensions over the allocation of land to people – often politically-connected -- from outside the region. Andrew Ndlovu and Stanley Ncube were due before Bulawayo magistrates late Thursday to face charges of threatening newly-resettled farmers in Bubi and Umguza districts.

The pair’s arrest by Inyati police came a day after Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman Ncube – also the chairman of a monitoring body of Zimbabwe’s power sharing government – warned that tensions over the land allocations were threatening to “degenerate to the levels of the violence that we saw in the streets of Kenya where neighbours were killing each other with machetes”.

Meanwhile the opposition ZAPU said Thursday that “through Ncube and Ndlovu’s efforts, and those of fellow community members in the two districts, the ‘new farmers’ were in most cases unable to occupy the farms.”

“The two were actively involved in the on-going opposition of resettling people from outside Matabeleland in the Umguza and Bubi districts, at the expense of locals,” ZAPU said in a statement, claiming the two men as its members.

ZAPU said politically-connected individuals from other provinces were “using the police to drive away white farmers” in Matabeleland North and South, then moving in to occupy the farms.

Ncube called for an urgent review into the work of government-appointed land committees which he said had usurped the powers of chiefs – leaving local communities extremely aggravated.

The minister said: “The land issue is an important issue and if you look at the GPA [Global Political Agreement], you will realise that it takes up quite a chunk of the document. It’s an emotional subject.

“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 degenerate 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.”

A case being cited is that of Chief Jahana of Gokwe, who is struggling to return to Debshan in Insiza with his people where they were removed by colonial settlers in 1965.

The President of the Chiefs’ Council Senator Fortune Charumbira said: “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.

“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."

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