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from SAVIOUS KWINIKA in Chikombedzi
CHIKOMBEDZI – THE controversy around plans by the government to evict thousands of minorities southeast of Zimbabwe has taken another twist after authorities alleged some people based in neighbouring South Africa had bribed villagers to protest.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has come under heavy criticism locally and internationally amid plans to expel the largely VaTsonga/Shangaan people from their ancestral lands in Chilonga.

The 12 500 villagers have to make way for a disputable grass project for cattle rearing. Communities are resisting the move.

Things have come to a head after government spokesperson, Nick Mangwana, who alleged unidentified people from South Africa bribed the locals to speak against the project and imminent eviction.

“Some unidentified people from SA (South Africa) descended on Chilonga offering money to villagers asking them to speak against the project. After the visit by opposition party leaders, who had never been to our area before, we knew that there was a nefarious,” Mangwana stated.

He is the Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services.

Locals have criticised Mangwana’s statement.

“So (you think) the Chilonga people are dump, (so much that they) cannot speak (for themselves)? (Do you think) they need others to speak for them when they are the ones being affected (by government’s illegal eviction),” tweeted Dennis Maumbe.

Nonhlanhla Nkanyezi also lambasted the government spokesperson.

“Mungahembeleli vakahina (Don’t lie against our people (VaTsonga)! I come from Chiredzi South. It’s one of the underdeveloped constituencies in Zimbabwe but l love my rural home. I would not trade it for lucerne grass,” she said.

Solomon Manganyi accused Mangwana of lying.

“That is a very big lie Nick. Most of the people in Chiredzi have found SA being their only source of hope in terms of finding a living because the Zimbabwean government neglected them for a very long time. Politicians only visit Chiredzi when they want votes and then disappear,” Manganyi accused.

McDonald Bango stated: “If the project is so good as you say, why don’t you take it to Chivi? Chilonga does not need it.”

Paul Chisveto disputed that South African-based people had influenced the locals.

“So citizens (Chilonga villagers) are brainless to wait for someone all the time to speak up and out about what they feel is going wrong around their lives. Respect citizens. The country and its destiny is way bigger than any individual or organisation. Let people chart their lives,” he said.

Njomane Soengwazi echoed his sentiments.

“The people of Chilonga don’t need foreign people or anyone to understand the importance of their land.”

Napoleon Nyakudya took it personal against Mangwana.

“I think you are either taking the medication that was meant for your mental patients or you think you are addressing your mental patients Mr Secretary.”

Mangwana worked as a psychiatric nurse in the United Kingdom before his appointment to the Zimbabwean government in 2018.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Alliance (MDC-A) accused Mangwana of leading the government’s propaganda on the evictions.

“You (Mangwana) mean the Chilonga (people) are so dull that they need incentives to know that the intended evictions are against their interests? You mean they are happy to hand over their land?” the party’s Bulawayo branch tweeted.

– CAJ News