Matobo villagers in Matabeleland South Province have demanded; through a Motion presented to the Senate Chambers by their legislator Senator Sithembile Mlotshwa on 07 March 2018; that President Emmerson Mnangagwa honours the Constitution of Zimbabwe and ensure justice for rural peasants who were evicted paving way for the expansion of ARDA/Trek irrigation scheme.
“With the new dispensation that has ushered in V. P. Mnangagwa as the President now, he is the one who was involved and he knows the issue very well. He was the one who was visiting the ARDA/Trek every time. I hope that since he is the one to make the final decisions in this country, he will have pity on the plight of these people who do not have any piece of land to live on” reads part of Sen. Mlotshwa’s motion.
In the motion the villagers who are convinced they were deliberately discriminated because of their geographic location, note that their rights have been affected and therefore demand among other issues:
- Community land (farm) for all the 55 villagers on our list. Provision of water to schools, clinic, road network before settling people as soon as possible.
- Burial site ASAP for the 27 deceased who are our blood relations. Want to exhume and bury them before Trek/ARDA commence farming on their graves. We demand that Trek/ARDA bears the cost with Home Affairs Supplementing.
- Provision of passage from Matankeni Power line to Alicedale/Karisenin for easy access to our traditional grazing lands. Before 30/12/2017.
- Provision of confirmation letters for food provisions enough for 6 people in each household for all the 60 affected until harvesting season 2018 that is if the land for farming is provided in time for the 2017/18 ploughing season i.e. using world vision standards.
- Road to be provided from Nganunu to Maphisa via Fourshe’s Khaya must be fenced to allow freedom of movement before 12/2017.
- Trek/ARDA not to commence ploughing before we exhume our deceased and also get time to transfer our traditional rites areas to our new provided lands.
- We demand subsistent employment opportunities for our children with contracts specified and to be in management and be shareholders not casual employment which has no stipulated salaries. We should benefit from the natural resources that surround us and this project.
- If there is any communication to the 62 of us, it must be addressed to our names through our legal representatives not through D. A., VIDCOS and Chiefs. Matters between Hon. Sen. Sithembiso Mlotshwa and 61 others.
- Ministry of National Heritage and Rural Development to provide a clear map that is simplified to show the rural fork were exactly the 1947 boundaries are with a key to show the landmarks.
Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights supports the Motion of the Senator and the demands of the villagers and call on the Government of Zimbabwe to respect the Constitution and the rights of the people to personal dignity, access to agricultural land and right to shelter among others. This institute hopes the government will realize the need to address deliberate institutionalized discrimination of the people of Matabeleland by addressing this issue speedily. The organization further notes that the minority communities of Matabeleland continue to lose their ancestral lands through disguised government programmes such as land reform and government sanctioned business ventures.
(Story By MIHR – 15 march 2018)