CONTROVERSIAL self-styled war veterans’ leader and pioneer of the chaotic land reform exercise in 2000, Francis Zimuto, popularly known as Black Jesus, has petitioned Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo, demanding he be made paramount chief of an area that formerly belonged to white commercial farmers, spanning from Bikita Minerals to Mashava.
Twelve chiefs — Marozva, Chiwara, Makore, Chikwanda, Musara, Mugabe, Charumbira, Serima, Zimuto, Ndanga, Bere and Nerupiri are said to be having boundary disputes over the area, with each claiming jurisdiction.
However, some of the chiefs have rubbished his demands as nonsensical, saying the area previously fell under their jurisdiction before the coming of the white colonial settlers, who displaced them.
In a five-paged petition to Chombo, seen by this paper, Zimuto, who hails from the Zimuto chieftainship clan, claims that there is a chieftainship wrangle and land disputes have erupted because of overlapping boundaries in the formerly white-owned farms.
The petition has been copied to Chief’s Council president, Chief Fortune Charumbira, the Local Government ministry permanent secretary, Masvingo provincial administrator Felix Chikovo and district administrator James Mazvidza.
“This area has been declared a battlefield and the supremacy of authority on this land has no-one in full control,” Zimuto wrote.
“Each of the 12 chiefs is claiming the authority of this land that stretches approximately 100km and 60km in width.
“There is no fairness and wisdom to allow these chiefs randomly encroach into former white commercial farms now.
“They should stay put in their area because their subjects and their land is still there.”
He argues that there is a need for a new chief in the formerly white commercial farms because they have new people from various districts and provinces of the whole country and must have a new paramount chief. Zimuto claims Chombo has been misinformed and thus the government “failed to bring sanity in the area and put to rest the issue”.
“Honourable minister, may you stamp authority on these chiefs . . . none of these chiefs had boundary disputes before 1980, as they were content with the boundaries put in place by the colonialists, which kept them in their respective Tribal Trust Lands,” he said.
“The people are requesting you to appoint a seasoned deserving paramount chief in this area immediately.”
Zimuto, who dares those who object, goes on to suggest that he is the best candidate to take the offer, arguing that he was the forerunner of the land invasions that saw those commercial farmers leaving their farms.
While Charumbira could not be reached for comment, one of the chiefs involved, who asked for anonymity, said Zimuto was “day dreaming” and did not check under whose jurisdiction the area fell under before the Land Apportionment Act.
“He is having selective amnesia. He should revisit history and check under whose authority that area fell under before the whites took the fertile land,” the chief said.
“That alone should solve the puzzle, not to say because I invaded a farm in the area, therefore, I should be rewarded with chieftainship. He has been rewarded enough with the farm he took.”
Chombo could not be reached to ascertain whether the petition had reached his office, although Zimuto said he had handed it.