Illegal land sales allegations in Matabeleland North

Leonard Ncube, [email protected] 

VILLAGERS in the Fingo area of Mbembesi in Matabeleland North have appealed to the Government to investigate the alleged illegal sale of land by some local traditional leaders.

This comes at a time when the Government has launched a crackdown on land barons who are parcelling out land in illegal settlements.

In Matabeleland North alone, between January 10 and February 9, a total of 75 land barons and 80 illegal settlers were arrested for illegal land dealings. Among those arrested were traditional leaders, politicians and Government workers. 

Villagers in Mbembesi area have since written a petition seen by the Chronicle, urging the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development Dr Anxious Masuka to investigate Fingo village head Mr Enock Masuku and some individuals who have been fingered in the alleged land deals.

The villagers accused the land barons of parcelling out land without consulting the community resulting in the mushrooming of new settlements in the area especially in grazing areas. “We the undersigned inhabitants of Mbembesi area hereby petition the Honourable Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development to invoke his powers and investigate, combat and resolve the issue of unlawful selling, parcelling of communal land by village head Enock Masuku at Fingo area resulting in unlawful disorderly settlements,” read the petition.

“Since 2019 our acting village head of Mazizini, Mr Enock Masuku, acting in cahoots with his colleagues has taken it upon themselves to unlawfully distribute, peg, parcel and sell portions of land to various people all of whom are not from our area.”

The villages said they tried to engage Chief Ndondo of Mbembesi without success hence the petition.

“We believe that traditional leaders are custodians of communal lands and not vultures who devour land through illegal sales. 

“They have become land barons and have done that to our detriment as we no longer have land for our children and grazing,” said the villagers.

“This has affected our farming which we rely on and resulted in lawlessness as the settlers have no regard for law and respect for local culture.”

The villagers said they have therefore resolved to approach the minister to intervene.

One of the village leaders Mr Philani Mzamo confirmed the petition, saying they were still gathering more signatures from the community.

It is alleged that the land barons sell 2 300 square metres of land and 7.5-acre plots for between US$3 200 and US$3 500, and a 5-acre piece of land for US$3 000.

Contacted for comment, Mr Masuku said he acted above board as the land allocated was done within the legal framework with the knowledge of the local chief. 

He accused his subjects of falsely accusing him and challenged them to provide proof against him.

“Those people who are complaining are the ones whose children are selling land. I don’t know why they are accusing me. We gave their children land in 2018 and they failed to develop it and started selling the land,” said Mr Masuku.

“The local chief knows this and I want you to come to the ground and we show you all this. They should provide evidence to their claims, I have a directive from the chief and I can’t do anything without his knowledge.”

Chief Ndondo also accused the villagers of plotting against the village head.

“These things happened some time ago. These people don’t want him as village head but we know a person is innocent until proven guilty,” he said.

“Those who feel that we are not doing the legal way should take legal action. Government is currently working on such issues and if there is any wrongdoing it will be dealt with.”

Addressing a press conference at Mhlahlandlela Government Complex in Bulawayo recently, Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo said no political and traditional leadership and/or government departments’ employee is allowed to allocate land as it is a preserve of the provincial lands committee and local authorities.

He said individuals and entities wishing to be allocated land or purchase it should apply to the relevant authorities for them to be put on a waiting list.


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