Zim Villagers Challenge Chief Over Community Grazing Land

Villagers Challenge Chief Over Community Grazing Land (News Central TV)

Rural dwellers in Esigodini district ward four in Matebeleland South are up in arms against their local chief Chief Mthonzima accused of grabbing vast swaths of communal grazing land and turning it into his farm.

Chief Mthonzima, whose original name is Stanley Gwebu is being challenged of converting the land which the government handed over to the community after it was seized from a white farmer during the land reform programme to personal use.

“Our chief wants to turn our communal pasture into his own land. The community was given this land by the government when the white farmer was kicked out of the property during the land reform programme. In fact, the farm has been our ancestral land for a very long time. We do not know on what basis is the chief now claiming ownership of the farm,” one of the dissatisfied villagers said.

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The villager said the community pulled together their resources and bought fence for the grazing area which is adjacent to the gold-rich Mzingwane river.

One of the tribal chiefs in the ward, Nkosi Moyo confirmed the dispute between the villagers and the Chief.

In 2018, a public, private partnership was created at Willgroove Farm between ARDA, Willsgrove & Drummonds Ranching in Esigodini.

“Yes, I have heard rumours that the Chief want to take our grazing land. The community was given the land for grazing purposes when the white farmer was chased away from the property. We are surprised that the chief who is supposed to protect us now want to grab our grazing land,” Moyo said.

“The chief claims that he was given the land by the district coordinator. That land belongs to our community, and we want our children and grand- children to benefit from that land as well,” Moyo said.

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The villagers also said they strongly suspect that the chief want to carry out mining activities on the land.

“We suspect that the chief want to carry out mining activities at the property because the area is very rich in gold deposits,” another villager said.

The villagers said they have tried without success, to seek the help local MP Levy Mayihlome, and Esigodini Rural District Council (RDC) through the local councillor Jethro Mambande who is also Esigodini RDC chairperson.

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