CHIREDZI – THE minority Shangaan people have lamented alleged unfair distribution of land northeast of Zimbabwe, saying this had denied them access to the natural resource in their stronghold.
Community leaders and villagers in Chiredzi district of the Lowveld alleged land was distributed along tribal lines in what is the Southern African country’s farming hub.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, they accused the ruling Zanu-PF Masvingo region of sidelining the minority indigenous people in the distribution of land for sugar plantation, wildlife farming and livestock ranching in the Lowveld.
The areas in question comprise the surrounding sugar plantations plots in Mkwasine, Hippo Valley and Triangle in Chiredzi district where non-Shangaan speaking people allegedly connected to the Zanu-PF bigwigs have reportedly been offered prime land at the expense of indigenous people.
“Vanyikane tindawo takahina hivungana ne vushaka dzwavona! MaChangana hikwavo navana vavona vahava tshvumu,” interpretated as: “They (Shonas) only subdivided our district mainly plots of sugar plantations in Mkwasine, Triangle and Hippo Valley to their kith and kin leaving all indigenous Shangaan people out,” lamented one headsman.
With 14 million speakers, Shona is arguably most spoken Bantu language by the criterion of number of native speakers ahead of Zulu.
It is the majority language in Zimbabwe, whose population is over 16 million.
A Shangaan village head, who pleaded for anonymity, bemoaned alleged tribalism in the manner the land in sugar plantation was subdivided in the Lowveld.
He also alleged the land redistribution exercise mainly favoured Shona-speakers only.
“Kuhava naumwe MuChangaana angane plot yacchukhela! Kusuka katiDistrict Administrator), Councillors nati Members of Parliament (MPs) svesvi vaveka vangana vavona vaChikalanga,” he said.
It translates to, “Not even a single Shangaan speaking person is occupying the subdivided sugar plantations yet we are the indigenous people here. At first, we used to have MPs (Members of Parliament) from Shangaan speaking people, but now, they (Zanu-PF) are deliberately removing them right from DAs (District Administrator), Councillors and MPs replacing them with non-indigenous Shangaan speaking people connected to Zanu-PF.”
A Chiredzi pastor, who also requested anonymity said, “Anirhanzi kuhlaula hikuva nimunhu waXikwembu…..kahle kahle svilo svingaendhleka Chiredzi svavava! Vatsemelane ndawo yahina hivushaka dzwavona.”
This literally means: “I don’t want to sound tribalistic because I’m a man of God but what happened here is a sad chapter of the land reform programme. We watched in disbelief as they subdivided our district to themselves leaving out all indigenous Shangaan speaking people.”
The pastor added: “Hambi vaJustin Chauke vangale Heroes Acre avasvitsakeli lesvi-svinga endleka leno Chiredzi. VaChauke avalwelanga nyiphi yakuhlaula.”
This is translated to, “Even our former ZANLA Commander, now buried at the National Heroes Acre in Harare Cde Justin Chauke is not happy wherever he is when he sees his fellow Shangaan tribesmen being segregated yet he is a decorated national war hero for liberating the entire nation of Zimbabwe.”
Some relatives of the late local Zanu-PF Central Committee member, Titus Chauke Mukhungulushi, bemoaned the alleged chaotic and unfair land redistribution in the Lowveld.
“Svavava ngopfu svingayendleka Chiredzi hitimhaka tamisava. VaMukungulushi Chauke avasvitsakele hikuva kuhava maChangaana naumwe vanganyikwa misava yamatimba,” said one village head who also requested not to be named.
This literally means: “What happened here is very painful! I believe our Shangaan national liberation heroes such as former Zanu PF Central Committee Member, Cde Titus Mukungulushi Chauke would have condemned the level of tribalism displayed in the land allocation which only favours Shonas at the expense of his tribe Shangaan people.”
Relatives of another celebrated Shangaan legislator Aaron Baloyi, also bemoaned the development.
“When we fought for the liberation of Zimbabwe, we did so in one spirit with one aim of regaining the land stolen from us by white, but when it is time to share, only a clique of Shona tribe is benefitting,” a villager in MaChindu told CAJ News Zimbabwe.
There were no immediate comments from authorities and chiefs presiding over the lands in question, especially chiefs Tshovani, Sengwe, Chilonga, Mpapa and Masivamele.
Shangaan is one of 13 minority languages in Zimbabwe. These play second fiddle to Shona, Ndebele and English.
Besides addressing problems emanating from the chaotic land redistribution the new government of Emmerson Mnangagwa also faces a formidable task in tackling rampant tribalism, seen as an ugly legacy of longtime leader Robert Mugabe.
– CAJ News