MORE than 2 500 families in Chiredzi face eviction after a politically connected company was given an offer letter to undertake farming in the area where the families were resettled many years ago.
The development came after Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga (pictured) last year raised alarm and cancelled a list of sugarcane plot beneficiaries, citing favouritism and corruption, a move which led to the arrest of minister of State for Masvingo Ezra Chadzamira by Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) investigators over the matter.
The government issued two offer letters to Precab Investments and Redoak Corporation for 5 600 hectares which is part of 8 500 hectares in Chihungume, Triangle, known as Lot 16 of Nuanetsi Ranch. The land is occupied by 2 600 families and the government is silent on how it will compensate the families.
The offer letters for the two companies were issued on the same day, 2 September 2021, and they have similar details which include the quantity of land being offered and the names of company directors is the same.
The allocation has divided the ruling party in the province after villagers in Chihungume wrote a petition to the Zanu PF Chiredzi district coordinating committee.
The petition will be discussed at the party’s provincial executive committee this weekend.
Killer Makuni, the chairperson of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association in Chiredzi district, told The NewsHawks that it is surprising to note that leaders can issue an offer letter for a piece of land which is already occupied by thousands of people.
He said as custodians of land, war veterans will not allow the takeover of the land by a company which was never discussed by the district lands committee.
“As war veterans we are always clear on issues to do with land. We are worried by the behaviour of some of our leaders who are not worried about the welfare of others. We are hearing that there is a company which was given an offer letter for Chihungume but truly speaking we are not aware of that company. It was never discussed at our meetings here in Chiredzi and we are telling our people not to move an inch and we will resist any attempt to move them away,” Makuni said.
Chiredzi district development coordinator, who is also the chairperson of the district lands committee, Lovemore Chisema, told The NewsHawks that he was not aware of the identity of the company which was offered land in Chihungume since he was attending meetings in Harare.
He referred questions to the Lands ministry.
Efforts to get a comment from provincial lands officer Tendai Mumera and Lands minister Anxious Masuka were fruitless as their mobile phones went unanswered.
Zanu PF Masvingo provincial chairperson Rabson Mavhenyengwa confirmed that villagers in Chihungume petitioned the ruling party over issues pertaining to their future. However, he said the petition is still in the hands of party officials in Chiredzi but the issue will be discussed at a provincial executive meeting to be held in Masvingo at the weekend.
“It is true that the party received a petition from people in Chihungume after the ministry of Lands issued an offer letter for their land to a certain company. Unfortunately l have not seen the contents of the petition since it was submitted to the Chiredzi district party executive and l am certain that the issue will be discussed at our executive meeting here in Masvingo at the weekend,” Mavhenyengwa said.
A villager in Chihungume told The NewsHawks that they saw a man who identified himself as Kwenda and was accompanied by his colleagues scouting the area in preparation to moving in. He said villagers were verbally told via phone call by officials from Chiredzi’s ministry of Lands office.
“There is a guy who identified himself by the name Kwenda who came to our area looking around. He was in possession of the offer letter which gave them power to start farming operations in our area. We are surprised by the move by government and we do’’t know why they are always targeting us here in Chiredzi. As you know, our colleagues in Chilonga are facing the same fate and, for your information, most villagers in our area are from Chilonga, meaning we have nowhere to go as the Shangaan people,” the villager said.
A senior ministry of Lands official told The NewsHawks that the issuance of identical offer letters to two companies is meant to confuse people but the directorship of the companies is the same.
He said the hands of ministry officials are tied over the issue since it involves the interests of very senior party and government officials.