MATABELELAND South senator, Chief Nyangazonke has challenged government officials responsible for land redistribution to explain how Maleme Ranch was given to a senior officer in the president’s office without approval from traditional chiefs.
In a heated meeting at Chief Masuku’s kraal in Matopo on Saturday, Chief Nyangazonke said protocol had been breached when Maleme was given to Rodney Mashingaidze, from the president’s office.
When there is acquisition of a farm, a team comprising government officials and traditional leaders of the affected area is involved, Chief Nyangazonke said.
Addressing villagers, Chief Nyangazonke said the country’s Constitution gave chiefs mandate to allocate land.
“The district administrator and some people in the government, including the chief, form a land committee in the district,” he explained.
“The land committee that gave Mashingaidze land was wrong.
“The allocation of land without the chief of the area is illegal.
“I wish the Member of Parliament was here with us in this meeting.
“We destroyed a lot of farms and we do not want to continue, I wish that there were young people among us so that they witness what is happening.”
The allocation of Maleme Ranch to Mashingaidze has raised suspicion in Matobo district as traditional leaders say they were not aware of its redistribution.
Already Chief Malaki Masuku has reportedly travelled to Gwanda to meet Provincial Affairs minister Abedinico Ncube, without any joy.
The owner of the farm, David Cummingham, was given until February 1 to vacate the farm.
Chief Nyangazonke said on Wednesday he would summon government officials to Chief Masuku’s court, so they explain about the ranch’s acquisition.
Mashingaidze is said to have visited the ranch in the company of an official from the lands department to take an inventory at the farm, including taking photographs of equipment.
“I am summoning the government officials responsible for the distribution of land to come and explain to you on Wednesday at 10am,” Chief Nyangazonke said.
Present at the meeting was Chief Khulumani Mathema, who said the Maleme Ranch issue had been clarified during Angeline Masuku’s tenure as governor of the province.
He said a letter had been written to the governor, explaining that chiefs had said they were comfortable with Cunningham staying on.
“We once wrote a letter to the then governor Masuku telling her that we chose to stay with the white man,” Mathema said.
“I, as a chief, say this white man must remain on the farm, as he has been teaching us a lot of things.”