Lloyd Gumbo recently in Masvingo
Traditional leaders in Masvingo have come under fire from land reform beneficiaries for hijacking land allocation by corruptly giving land to people on undesignated plots. Some farmers also accused those in political leadership for allocating land to their relatives at the expense of ordinary farmers. This came out during the Public Hearings of a joint Parliamentary Committee of the Thematic Committee on Peace and Security and the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Lands and Irrigation Development on the Land Commission Bill in Masvingo North last week.The land reform beneficiaries alleged that traditional leaders on the newly resettlement areas were making money from allocating villagers on grazing land.
“Our biggest problem here is the introduction of traditional leaders in the resettlement areas,” said Mr Ephraim Chikukutu.
“Traditional leadership since their introduction have started allocating people land in areas that were reserved for grazing. Where do they get that authority from?”
Another farmer, Mr Amon Chinyoka, said while Government embarked on the fast track land reform exercise to decongest villages, the problem had resurfaced at the farms.
“When we were allocated land, the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement clearly demarcated land for farming, house construction and grazing land.
“But the Ministry of Local Government then came and said traditional leaders now have power to allocate land in the farms.
“We witnessed traditional leaders being given cattle in return for land allocation, which is corruption,” said Mr Chinyoka.
Mr Carrington Chizu added that farmers were now confused on who was supposed to have authority in the allocation of land between the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement and traditional leaders.
Added Mr Simon Mahosi: “We want the Land Commission Bill to clearly state that allocating land should be the preserve of Ministry of Lands. Local authorities should have nothing to do with land allocation in farms. Traditional leaders should not seek to allocate people on land that is already occupied. They are the reason there is a lot of conflict now.”
The farmers also claimed that politicians in the province were allocating land to their relatives while ordinary citizens struggled to get land.
Mr Sendcent Musariri said every citizen had rights to land, regardless of their status or relations.
“We also have a problem where there are farms that are still under the control of white farmers, but it appears there is no intention on the part of those in leadership in the province to repossess the farms.
“The problem is that there is a lot of corruption and we pray to God that He eradicates it. We see those in leadership allocating land to their relatives.
“They don’t care that someone was already resettled on the farm. They just think of their relatives as if some of us who don’t have relatives in influential positions do not deserve that land,” said Ms Josephine Chikono.