ZANU PF Chiredzi district coordinating committee chairperson Siyaki Munhungei last Monday ordered the acting district development coordinator, Gift Machukele, to ignore a recent instruction by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga to replace a list of sugarcane plot beneficiaries under the Kilimanjaro project in Hippo Valley Estates.
During a visit to Chiredzi last month, Chiwenga questioned the criteria used to allocate land in the lowveld amid an outcry from locals who alleged favouritism and corruption in allocations.
Chiwenga then ordered 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 to surrender the land, during a tour of the area last month.
The allocation of the sugarcane plots came after Chadzamira unilaterally dissolved the Chiredzi district lands committee early last year, with locals complaining that the move was aimed at sidelining them from the process.
In March, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) dispatched a team to the area to investigate the allocation of land and find out if the stipulated process was followed. Locals, including government officials, told the commission that land was being distributed by Chadzamira and provincial 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 agro-processing company 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 sugarcane 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 3 300 hectares being developed on a cost recovery basis.
However, during a meeting at the district administrator’s office on Monday, Munhungei questioned Chiwenga’s authority. He told Machukele not to call for a district lands committee meeting, saying the move will challenge Chadzamira’s authority.
The district lands committee was disbanded by Chadzamira early last year despite continued allocation of land to many people in the district since its disbandment. The move angered war veterans and ruling party youths who threatened to protest over the matter.
Machukele played down the matter when The NewsHawks reached him for a comment. He said he was too junior to talk to the press, before saying the district Lands committee will convene soon. He said the committee had not met because he was busy.
“I am too junior to talk to the media. I am not aware of what you are talking about. l am always busy to call for that meeting but if time permits l will call for the meeting to look into issues to do with land. Hopefully it will be soon,” said Machukele.
A senior government official in Chiredzi confirmed Munhungei’s order, adding the provincial leadership was against Chiwenga’s directive.
“The Zanu PF district leader in Chiredzi told the district coordinator that convening a district lands committee meeting will be challenging the minister of state. He further questioned Chiwenga’s authority and from that time the committee is yet to sit. There is a plan to avoid the directive by the vice-president and allow the discarded schedule to remain valid. The local government leadership have no power to challenge them. The province is ignoring the instruction of their superior, showing us that factionalism is now affecting government operations,” said the official.
However, Siyaki dismissed the allegations, saying he is not qualified to give Machukele instructions.
“It’s not only false but must have been said with a malicious intent. I am not the DDC’s boss, neither does he take instructions from me. Who told you that, is that person nameless or titleless? It is better for you to tell me the source of the information,” said Siyaki.
Chiwenga’s order that Chiredzi locals be given preference in land distribution programmes in the district was welcomed by traditional leaders who are bitter over the implementation of the land reform programme in the sugar industry since 2002.
Less than 5% of the beneficiaries are from the minority Shangaan community.
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