Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
The Government has expressed readiness to address the plight of Chief Zephania Sigola of Umzingwane District, Matabeleland South who has been struggling to acquire land for farming.
Chief Sigola (94) is accusing the Umzingwane District Lands Committee of deliberately sidelining him in the allocation of land at Springvale Estate and “corruptly” allocating land in his jurisdiction.
The chief was only allocated the farmhouse at the 1 600-hectare Springvale Estate. However, the arable land at the farm was allocated to senior civil servants in the district, raising suspicion of corruption on the part of the district lands committee.
Chief Sigola, whose health is now failing, has got a small portion of land around the farmhouse where he grows maize.
He said when he was given the farm house, he was also promised land near the farmhouse for commercial farming.
The Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Anxious Jongwe Masuka resolved to look into Chief Sigola’s issue after Umzingwane MP Brigadier-General (Retired) Levi Mayihlome took the matter to Parliament last week.
Brig-Gen (Rtd) Mayihlome had asked the minister to inform the National Assembly on when Chief Sigola, including four other chiefs in the district and the late former President Canaan Banana’s widow Mrs Janet Banana, would be allocated farms.
“There are four chiefs who applied for land and it is over 15 years that they have been battling to get land in Umzingwane District. That is unheard of and they have been waiting for over 15 years. This is why I am raising it here in Parliament, and when will they be allocated farms?” asked Brig-Gen (Rtd) Mayihlome.
“Other people who are not chiefs have been allocated land before them. The first one (Chief Sigola) was allocated a homestead — just a homestead and no arable land and yet we expect chiefs to have isiphala senkosi.”
Brig-Gen (Rtd) Mayihlome told Parliament that the other chief was allocated land in another chief’s jurisdiction and the land committee had to look for another farm for her.
“On the third chief, there was duplicate allocation; two more people were allocated that same piece of land with the chief. The fourth chief who is now deceased never got the land. The family is now asking about that,” he said.
“Related to that, we have the former first President of this country, the late Reverend Canaan Banana’s family applied for land and it is over three years now.”
Minister Masuka said in terms of Government policy there should be no discrimination when it comes to allocation of land.
“I gave a policy position regarding allocation of land in general, but what is emerging is that there is a bit of history to each of these and very specific and unique to the circumstances. I therefore think in order for the Honourable Member (Brig-Gen (Rtd) Mayihlome) to advance these cases, may wish to provide us with additional detail so that we can liaise with the respective offices in Umzingwane and the relevant provinces, and see how we can assist,” he said.
Minister Masuka said every citizen is free to follow the procedure to apply for land through their respective district lands committees. — @mashnets.