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Chiwenga reverses corrupt sugarcane plot allocation

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SENIOR Zanu PF officials, their relatives and security agents who were corruptly allocated sugarcane plots in Chiredzi by minister of State for Masvingo Ezra Chadzamira were last weekend ordered to surrender the land by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga.

MORRIS BISHI
The allocation of the sugarcane plots, which came after Chadzamira unilaterally dissolved the Chiredzi district lands committee early last year, raised eyebrows  in the lowveld, with locals complaining that the move was aimed at sidelining them from the process.

Last month, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) dispatched a team to the area to investigate the allocation of land and find out if stipulated process was followed, with locals, including government officials, telling the commission that land was being distributed by Chadzamira and provincials leaders to people who were paying large sums of money.

Among the beneficiaries of the sugarcane plots on schedule 17 of 2020 which The NewsHawks is in possession of are Samora Mnangagwa, Tatenda Matemadanda, Daniel Chadzamira, Masvingo provincial development coordinator Jefter Sakupwanya, provincial medical director Amadeous Shamhu, Mtandazo Ncube who is Chadzamira’s security aid, Zaka West legislator Ophious Murambiwa, Muchareveyi Chamisa who is Zanu PF provincial administrator as well as ruling party youths, war veterans and companies linked to Zanu PF members.

The plots were developed for the government by Tongaat Hullet under the Kilimanjaro Project in Hippo Valley Estates at a cost of US$40 million. 

Dubbed “Kilimanjaro”, the project will develop virgin land into sugar cane plantations at Triangle and Hippo Valley estates in Chiredzi as part of the firm’s drive to increase aggregate sugar output while also empowering indigenous outgrower farmers who will be allocated plots on the nearly 3 300 hectares being developed on a cost recovery basis.

Addressing traditional leaders, legislators and government officials at Gibbo Stadium on Sunday, Chiwenga declared that a list of beneficiaries which was compiled for submission to the office of minister of Lands and Agriculture was invalid and instructed Chadzamira and provincial government leaders in Masvingo to compile another list which will see the Shangaan people being the main beneficiaries.

“This place is known for growing sugarcane. The climate here is suitable for growing sugarcane. There are other places which are being identified for production and the shangaan people should be considered as beneficiaries and this should start during the distribution of plots under Kilimanjaro outgrower project. I would like to inform minister Chadzamira that the list of beneficiaries which you were supposed to submit to the minister of Agriculture’s office is now invalid. Sit down with all stakeholders and compile a new list which will benefit the locals. Legislators for this area should also be involved in that process,” said Chiwenga.

Local traditional leader Chief Tshovani, born Felix Mundau, told The NewsHawks that the move by Chiwenga is welcome within the Shangaan people since from the beginning of sugarcane farming in the lowveld only less than 5% of locals benefitted. He said traditional leaders and legislators should be given the mandate to make sure that people from their constituencies are benefitting from such programmes.

“The move by VP Chiwenga is welcome since the native Shangaan people were bitter because they were being marginalised from the land reform programme. If you look at history, most of our people were relocated from Triangle and Hippo Valley to pave way for Sugarcane farming. It is therefore unfair to note that only a few of us managed to get sugarcane plots since the introduction of the land reform in the sugar industry in 2002. Traditional leaders and legislators should be given major roles in identifying beneficiaries from their areas other than watching people coming from Harare and other areas” said Chief Tshovani.

A senior government official in Masvingo told The NewsHawks that the move by Chiwenga has created panic for Chadzamira and his accomplices since they know that they did not follow procedure in what they were doing.

The official also added that Chiredzi lands committee held its first meeting two weeks ago after the visit by Zacc and, going forward, the committee will start doing its work and make it difficult for the provincial leaders to manipulate its resolutions.

“Let me tell you that we are going to see a witchhunting exercise as the provincial boss is suspecting his juniors in the province of reporting him to Chiwenga. But what we know is that these guys are now in a tight corner since they collected funds from beneficiaries whose names were cancelled. It is now going to be difficult for them to manipulate processes. Chiredzi lands committee is now holding meetings,” said the government official.

The cancelled list has 49 beneficiaries. The lowest beneficiary would have gotten 14 hectares with the highest getting 250 hectares. 

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