Monday, August 29, 2016

(THE PATRIOT ZW) The Struggle For Land in Zimbabwe (1890 – 2010)

COMMENT - The monopolisation of land a major source of poverty in Rhodesia, South Africa, Namibia, Kenya. It used to be 'white farmers' who monopolised the land, however they too are now increasingly removed from their land by the giant corporations, assisted by the IMF/World Bank's policies and approval. (Moeletsi Mbeki, 02:50) See Ambreena Manji's The Politics Of Landreform In Africa.

It is time to take the land from the giant corporations, and give it to the people. - MrK

(THE PATRIOT ZW) The Struggle For Land in Zimbabwe (1890 – 2010)…..how the BSAC usurped Chief Mutasa’s land
By The Patriot Reporter -
August 25, 2016

By 1896, more than 1 500 000 acres (600 000 hectares), virtually 100 percent of all arable land in the Melsetter District (Chimanimani), had been acquired and occupied by the Boer settler-farmers from South Africa, writes Dr Felix Muchemwa in his book The Struggle For Land in Zimbabwe (1890 – 2010) that The Patriot is serialising.

THERE were lots of gold reserves in the Manyika Kingdom, both reef and alluvial gold, especially along the Revuwe, Chua, Chimezi and Nyahombwe river valleys.

From the mid-19th Century, the Portuguese, led by businessmen Colonel Joaquim Carlos Paiva de Andrade, well known as Gouveia, and Manuel Antonio de Souza, supported by the Portuguese Government, grabbed land from Paramount Chief Mutasa in Manyika.

The Mozambican businesspersons and their company, the Mozambique Company, owned goldfields particularly in Mutare, Revuwe and Buzi river valleys, but not by Mutasa’s permission, but that of the Portuguese Government.

In fact, the Portuguese Government claimed ‘large parts of Shona country on the grounds that their traders and adventurers had penetrated this region during the early 16th Century’.

The claims included Umtali District (Mutare) and Nyanga as on Portuguese maps of that time, but this only drew counter-claims by the British South Africa Company (BSAC) and another company, the African Portuguese Syndicate (APS), owned by South Africans. (Bhila, 1982: pp.234-7)

Then the BSAC went further to impose a treaty on Paramount Chief Mutasa on September 19 1890, which provided that no one could possess land in Manyika except with the consent of the company.

The terms of this concession were quite similar, both in content and in spirit, to the Rudd Concession.
Two months later, on the night of November 16 1890, Major Patrick Forbes, supported by Captain R. Fiennes, made his way to the Paramount Chief, stormed Mutasa’s court, disarmed Gouveia’s soldiers, arrested the Portuguese leaders who were celebrating an agreement with the Paramount Chief and then replaced the Portuguese flag with the Union Jack.

Later on, however, an Anglo-Portuguese Convention of June 11 1891 partitioned the Manyika Kingdom, giving Portugal the Mozambican part of Manyika plus Gazaland and following the partition and the conquest of Matabeleland in 1893, the BSAC went further to include Manicaland in the Matabeleland Order-in-Council on July 18 1894 on the pretext that Manicaland was ruled by King Lobengula as part of Mashonaland before 1893 and was therefore part of the conquest of Matabeleland. (Palley, 1966: pp.114)
But Mutasa was not amused by this and protested directly to the British Secretary of State for the Colonies in London.

And, he was very emphatic that he had never been under King Lobengula’s rule or any king and that since inception in the 14th Century, the Manyika Kingdom had never been under foreign rule. (Bhila,1982: pp.240)

The Paramount Chief’s son, Chimbadzwa, the heir-apparent, was even angrier with these insults from the British.

Despite the conflict between Paramount Chief Mutasa and the BSAC, the Company had, through the Order-in-Council of July 18 1894, laid claim to more than 1 907 492 acres (762 997 hectares) of land which was virtually over 70 percent of Umtali District which included Nyanga. (Palmer, 1977: pp.182)

By 1896, this amounted to 224 farms allocated and occupied by European settler-farmers in this most favoured agricultural region one on the Zimbabwean Highveld and it left very little land for Mutasa’s people who were being forced out of the district by the BSAC.

On January 9 1894, the acting resident magistrate of Umtali demanded the supply of compulsory labour from Chikanga, ‘one of Mutasa’s daughters in charge of a ward,’ and the Sub-chief totally refused to supply the ‘forced’ labour to the gold mines and farms in Umtali District.

The result was that when Magistrate G. Seymour Fort returned, he gave her a 48-hour ultimatum which she again ignored resulting in him moving to confiscate livestock as well as effect arrest.

During the ensuing altercation, Fambesa, the sub-chief’s husband was shot dead while defending her. (Bhila, 1982: pp.241)

In her trial, sub-chief Chikanga completely rejected the Company’s presence and any claimed rights in Manyika and the BSAC responded by banishing the sub-chief, her brother, Chimbadzwa (Mutasa’s heir apparent) and the Manyika Spirit Medium, Muredzwa, to Barwe country.

Paramount Chief Mutasa was also required to unconditionally surrender his whole territory, including the gold-fields, to the BSAC (Bhila pp. 244) and to promise that his people would pay ‘Hut Tax’ and ‘rent’ to the Company and to European settler-farmers.

Behind the scenes, the judgement was, of course, informed by Magistrate Seymour Fort’s prior knowledge of a raging succession war between Chimbadzwa, who detested the BSAC and his half-brother Chiobvu, who favoured the British.

It was a succession battle the Company had fuelled for over four years in a bid to win over Manyika.
So it was that by 1896, virtually all of Mutasa’s land had been usurped by the BSAC and the European settler-farmers and many of his people had left Manyika.

Chimbadzwa, his sister, sub-chief Chikanga, and the Manyika spirit medium, Muredzwa, had been forced into exile.

Tendai Mutasa was a very lonely man and he was little expected to rise against the European settler-occupation of land in June 1896, when the First Chimurenga broke out.

Melsetter District (Chimanimani)

South of Umtali District, Melsetter had been made an administrative district in 1895.
By 1896, more than 1 500 000 acres (600 000 hectares), virtually 100 percent of all arable land in the Melsetter District, had been acquired and occupied by the Boer settler-farmers from South Africa. (Palmer, 1977: pp.182)

Little land remained in African hands, the population of which had dwindled from over 40 000 in 1891, to less than 13 245 people by 1896. (Warhurst, 1975)

Most African people in the district had been gradually forced out of their ancestral lands and driven into the Odzi/Sabi low-veld areas of Zimunya, Marange, Nyanyadzi, Chibuwe, Chisumbanje and Chiredzi.
Those who remained in the district only remained as ‘forced’ labourers or ‘slaves’ called ‘Shangaans’ on settler-farms.

However, despite the great reduction in their number, subjugation of their chiefs and their enslavement, the people of Melsetter still rose up and joined the First Chimurenga against the Boer settler-farmers on August 13 1896.

But unfortunately for them, they were quickly defeated by the Boer territorial forces called the Burghers on August 27 1896.

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