Ethnic tensions in Matebeleland as land row widens

The people of Matebeleland region have been angered by the ongoing ethnic land invasions that authorities are battling deal with and demand that they should be corrected quickly. Finding themselves increasingly marginalised, Zapu strongholds in the region allege that these unlawful invasions are blessed by the highest office in the land.


“It is unfortunate that land invasions have been targeted mainly on Zapu members. Tthe wave started in Masvingo and came to Matebeleland with violent clashes raging on Zapu members,” Zapu national spokesperson Mjobisa Noko said.

After independence, significant resistance to Zanu was located in Matebeleland province where the first revolutionary party Zapu was formed. The Gukurahundi massacre was mounted and it is alleged that it wiped more than 20 000 civilians that were burned alive and buried in mass graves between 1983-1987.

The president of Zapu, Joshua Nkomo accepted defeat and his party was absorbed into Zanu by the unity accord signed in 1987. Affected Matebeleland families annually pour scorn on celebrating unity day, a day full of sad memories of brutal murders of their families.

“These invasions have a hidden agenda because the constitution outlawed them. We are living in the land with no rule of law and the Zanu (PF) government chooses to turn a blind eye on the constitution,” said Noko

According to Section 291 of the constitution of Zimbabwe: “Continuation of rights of occupiers of agricultural land subject to this constitution, any person who, immediately before the effective date, was using or occupying, or was entitled to use or occupy, any agricultural land by virtue of a lease or other agreement with the state continues to be entitled to use or occupy that land on or after the effective date, in accordance with that lease or other agreement.”

Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister Douglas Mombeshora said the current wave of land invasions unfolding in Matebeleland was not allowed by the constitution.

“No illegal land invasions that are tolerated, anyone who wants land must come to authorities at the ministry of land and no one else should distribute land or occupy land,” he said following the land invasion that took place recently on former Zipra intelligence supremo and Zapu president Dumiso Dabengwa’s Ruddy farm in Nyamandlovu, Dartnelly Farm owned by David Connolly and Bulawayo City Council-owned Mazwi Sanctuary farm.

Dabengwa claimed that he was being persecuted because he was not kow-tow to Zanu (PF) like Joshua Nkomo, Simon Khaya Moyo, John Land- Nkomo and Kembo Mohadi. The CEO of Habakkuk Trust Dumisani Nkomo said the government had failed to uphold the rule of law because all that is happening is outlawed by the constitution.

“As far as I am concerned, with Zanu (PF), the constitution is just a piece of paper,” he added.

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