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‘Village head’, chief accused of corruptly selling land

Resettled villagers in Insiza District’s Greenland, Matabeleland South, are accusing a fellow villager, Alfred Sibanda, of imposing himself as village head and selling their residential stands with the backing of current Chief Jahana whom they also accused of neglecting his people and refusing to intervene in the matter.

People under the Jahana chieftaincy who were displaced to Gokwe in the Midlands by the colonial regime returned to their ancestral lands in Matabeleland South between 2008 and 2010.

It was then that some of them were allocated some pieces of land in Insiza by then Chief Jahana – Solomon Khumalo – who later died in 2012.

However, villagers say since the departure of Solomon Khumalo many people under the chieftaincy have had torrid times in getting land under the current chief whom they accuse of being “rude, arrogant, and unaccommodating.”  

Pieces of land that had been allocated to some villagers are said to be sold by Sibanda to different land seekers, a situation which they say has caused unrest in the community.

Villagers have linked the recent death of a Village Development Committee (VIDCO) chairperson, Moyo, whose body was found by the road and supposedly run over by a vehicle.

Members of the community say Moyo, who was strongly against what Sibanda is doing could have been murdered, adding the discovery of his body by the roadside could have been stage-managed to cover up the crime.

Sibanda is accused of harassing one old woman, only identified as Gogo MaBhebhe to the extent of stripping naked before him, drinking rat poison, and deserting the stand where structures had been set up already.

The same Sibanda with the backing of the chief is then said to have sold the same stand for US$800 to different land seekers creating confusion, tensions, and commotion in the area. 

One villager told CITE it was disheartening that while there are so many people who were under Chief Jahana in Gokwe looking for stands, land continues to be parcelled out by Sibanda who they sail hails from Zhombe, while the chief is not doing anything to ensure his subjects have land.

“Land is being sold by a man by the name of Sibanda,” said a distraught villager.

“He sells stands as many times as he pleases and when we report that to the chief, he doesn’t take any action. He even goes to the extent of twisting the conversation. We no longer know who to approach for our issues to be resolved. We have tried to look for Khayisa (Chief Ndiweni) but we could not get his contact details. It’s a pity again that Chief Maduna is no more.”

The villagers said they were like orphans with no one to listen to them.

“There was only one man in the community, the VIDCO chairperson, Moyo, who used to listen to us but was killed and his body was dumped by the highway.”

Villagers questioned the selective criteria used to allocate land to the people, which they said seemed to be benefitting outsiders at the expense of Chief Jahana’s subjects.

“Upon getting that place the chief was supposed to invite all Jahana people to go and register for land together with their children and fit us all in there until everyone was catered for, but he is not doing all that.” said one villager.

The villager said Sibanda does not listen to anyone in the area, adding one

Mathe, a ZANU-PF chairperson in the area had tried to reprimand him to no avail.

Before Gogo MaBhebhe deserted her stand and returned to Gokwe, paving way for Sibanda to sell her stand as many times as he could, villagers said she tried to seek protection from the chief but could not get it.

Whenever the chief is phoned, villagers said he plainly says he does not know them hence he would not talk to them.

“We have not benefited anything as children of Jahana under the chieftaincy of the current Chief Jahana; he is so rude whenever we approach him,” said a villager.

“My question is: who is he leading in that area which he was given? Is he not supposed to lead Jahana’s people? What we know is that a chief that leads people should be accommodative.”

Some villagers accused the chief of the inability to amicably co-exist with members of the community.

“Khumalo is just messing up everything and does not know how to work together with people,” lamented a villager.

“Whenever people have their meetings and make resolutions, Sibanda comes and overturns them saying he has been with the chief. What kind of a chief is met privately by Sibanda alone? When we went for his installation we thought we had found one to lead us but we are still orphans.”

When reached out for a comment, Sibanda initially refused to speak over the phone insisting on a face-to-face meeting.

“Let’s do it this way,” he said.

“This issue of speaking over the phone is not always good. I am coming over to Bulawayo, where can we meet and how.”

Asked to confirm whether the allegations raised against him were true, he had this to say: “No, no baba, I cannot talk about such an issue over the phone. If there is no other way we can talk, that’s it, full stop.”

After agreeing with this reporter to meet on Saturday, Sibanda later cancelled the appointment citing other commitments elsewhere and proposed that the meeting be shifted to Sunday afternoon.

However, on Sunday afternoon, his phone was no longer reachable.

When this reporter phoned in the evening of the same day, Sibanda who still insisted on a face-to-face meeting, said the allegations were unfounded and meant to tarnish his image and that of one of the chief.

“All I can say is that it is not true,” denied Sibanda.

“Those people just want to tarnish our names. This issue is going to tarnish my name. I do not work on hearsay, I am an elderly person, and I lead people. We are used to being tarnished but I know that tarnishing someone over something they have not done is also a crime.”

He instead also accused the same villagers complaining about him of being the ones taking away other people’s stands.

“I am an elderly person and would like to talk to you face to face on an issue that I know if ever there is an issue,” he said.

“I would like you to come to the ground. As I speak people are complaining. The people who have come to complain to you saying Sibanda and the chief are doing this and that, are the same people who are taking away people’s stands.”

Chief Jahana demanded the names of his accusers so he could deal with them.

“Just mention one name of a person who is complaining,” said the chief.

“Tell me their names. I want their names, I want to deal with them. Did they say Sibanda gets authority from me to sell stands? Tell those people, I will deal with them. Do I sell the bush? A black person is a problem, you know it. They can say anything behind your back.”

The chief said people occupying Greenland were not authorised to stay there.

“Now they come behind my back to tell you their issues, are you their God? I don’t sell the bush and I have not authorised Sibanda to sell the bush. I don’t want things that piece me off. How can I authorise someone to do something unlawful? You see now, they are damaging my name.”

He refuted claims that Sibanda is not a village head.

“Sibanda is a village head,” said Chief Jahana.

“Those people found Sibanda there looking after the bush and through their own corruption started to sell the bush to one another. This issue is going to give you problems because I am going to challenge those people and yourself as well.”

He further said: “Next time don’t phone me telling me about such a dirty issue. Do you want to tarnish my name? If I see that in the press, you are in for it. How can those people say I am rude, are they my parents? I don’t even know those people. Those people were not settled by me, I don’t know them and I do not have their register.”

He however later said there was an issue with a stand that was allocated to someone in the area but later deserted for about five years, adding he has been receiving inquiries about that piece of land from people he does not know.

He explained that he had refused to entertain ‘strangers’ insisting the very person who was allocated the stand should be the one contacting him.

Chief Jahana also denied that he had refused to meet with people in his area demanding that he be given dates when he was invited and did not show up.

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