Chiefs, war vets clash over land

HARARE - War veterans resettled in Norton are engaged in a bitter land wrangle with the local chief, Claudius Mandaza Nyamweda, who is pushing for their eviction.

The war veterans, led by Willard Zviripi, claim the chief has been taking their farming and grazing lands on the grounds that they are not descendants of Mhondoro.

During the chaotic land reform programme of 2000 hundreds of people led by war veterans grabbed prime farmlands from former commercial white farmers.

However, there always has been friction between chiefs and the settlers.

So far 12 widows have been allegedly kicked out of their plots and homes at Nyagori Farm, which is on the outskirts of Norton, by chief Mandaza notwithstanding the fact that they have offer letters issued by government in 2006.

“We have lost grazing land after the chief settled his own people there, now we are set to lose more of our land unless government intervenes to save us from the chief.

“This is indirect colonialism that is coming from the chief. We do not hate the chief but we hate the system. We went to war to end segregation but now it is back,” said Zviripi.

Although a letter from the ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development resolved that “Zviripi should continue with his farming activities without any disturbances” the chief has defied the directive.

Repeated efforts to speak to Chief Nyamweda were fruitless.

The land dispute has been raging for more than five years now and war veterans say their farming activities have been disrupted as they cannot plan.

Apart from seeking audience with the district administrator, settlers at Nyagori Farm have also petitioned President Robert Mugabe, Peter Chanetsa, the governor of Mashonaland West Province and also various government ministers.

The draft constitution which has received a thumbs-up from both Zanu PF and the two MDC formations and is likely to sail through a referendum is set to end the haggling over land between chiefs and settlers across Zimbabwe.

Chiefs, who are accused by civic society organisations of propping up Zanu PF through coercing their followers to vote for the former ruling party, feel that the draft constitution usurps their royal powers.

Clause 15.3 (2) of the Copac draft states that: “Except as provided for in Act of Parliament, traditional leaders shall have no authority, control or jurisdiction over land except communal land or over persons outside communal land unless the cause of the action arose within the area of the traditional leader’s jurisdiction Mugabe’s critics allege that the land reform that plunged the country into hunger and drew international condemnation due to its violent nature was a political gimmick by the crafty Zanu PF leader who was facing defeat in 2000 from a vibrant opposition MDC which is now part of the coalition government.

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