PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has cancelled two offer letters issued by the ministry of Lands which would have facilitated the grabbing of over 5 000 hectares of prime land currently occupied by 2 600 families in Triangle.
His intervention comes after war veterans and Zanu PF members in Masvingo province threatened to defy the move which was set to leave the current occupants of the land, known as Lot 16 of Nuanetsi Ranch, homeless.
The offer letters were issued to Precab Investments and Redoak Resources whose owners were believed to linked to top government officials. Mnangagwa summoned minister of State for Masvingo province Ezra Chadzamira and the recently elected Zanu PF provincial chairperson Rabson Mavenyengwa to State House on Tuesday and told them that investors should not be prioritised over locals.
The State House meeting was also attended by Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans’ Association secretary for Chiredzi Killiot Mukanya, legislators Farai Musikavanhu’s (Chiredzi West) and Roy Bhila (Chiredzi North). Lands minister Anxious Masuku will preside over a meeting to be held in Masvingo on Friday where he is expected to pass Mnangagwa’s message to various stakeholders in the province.
The meeting, expected to expose the corrupt allocation of land in the province, will also be attended by members of the Chiredzi district lands committee. The committee was disbanded for over two years by Chadzamira in a move viewed as a way of sidelining it from land allocation deliberations.
The provincial leadership continued parcelling out land to their political allies and relatives in the sugarcane-producing district of Chiredzi, which is the province’s economic capital.
Zanu PF Masvingo provincial chairperson Rabson Mavenyengwa told The NewsHawks that Mnangagwa summoned him together with Chadzamira and other officials to State House earlier this week and told them that villagers in the Chihungume area of Triangle will not be evicted.
The President ordered the ministry of Lands to cancel the offer letters controversially issued to two companies and directed that the current occupants of the land be given documents to legalise their stay. He said Lands minister Masuka will come to Masvingo on Friday, where he will address stakeholders over the issue.
“I can confirm that we travelled to Harare early this week where the President told us that the people in Chihungume will not be evicted and the offer letters issued to private investors should be cancelled. I went with Chadzamira, in the company of Musikavanhu, Bhila and Mukanya. All stakeholders involved in the issue will be in Masvingo for a meeting on Friday, which will be addressed by the minister of Lands.”
“The President advised us that investments by private players should not be given priority over the ordinary people. He told us that the investment should benefit people and the companies involved should contract the people on the land so that they can all benefit from the project,” Mavenyengwa said. War veterans and the Chihungume community recently petitioned the Zanu PF Masvingo provincial leadership, challenging the issuance of the offer letters to the two companies. They vowed to resist the government move, citing corruption.
A top government official in Masvingo told The NewsHawks that Mnangagwa was forced to reverse the latest land allocations after his name was linked to Precab Investments which was first given the offer letter.
He said the allocation to Precab was done in Masvingo by Chadzamira and team as a way of getting sympathy from Mnangagwa after an attempt by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission to arrest him over abuse of office involving land allocations in Chiredzi last year.
A traditional leader from Chiredzi told The NewsHawks that the Chihungume issue is similar to what is happening in Chilonga and it is fair for the government to address the issue in a similar manner instead of forging ahead with the intention to relocate over 10 000 families for a grass project which is set to feed cattle in the Midlands.
“The move taken by government to reverse allocation for land to private players in Triangle is welcome, but we are surprised that government is treating our issue with a different hand. Our people are the same as this in Triangle and it is worrisome to note that these guys are still pursuing the grass project, which will leave over 10 000 families homeless,” the traditional leader said.