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Chombo exercise to stoke tension

Bernard Mpofu

LOCAL government, Urban and Rural Development minister Ignatious Chombo (pictured below) has said the state intends to mark new boundaries for traditional chiefs by year-end, an exercise that is likely to intensify tension between local authorities and chiefs.

Chombo last weekend told a visiting delegation of Zimbabwe journalists and traditional chiefs in the Royal Bafokeng Nation that his ministry is pushing for a community share ownership scheme that would empower traditional leadership under the controversial indigenisation and empowerment regulations.

“By the end of this year, every piece of land in Zimbabwe will be called under the name of a chief in that particular area. We are creating the new boundaries for the chiefs,” Chombo said.

“We are targeting one province per month, which means that by December 31 we should have a coded map of Zimbabwe showing which chief presides over which area. This is aimed at complementing our dual governance system of traditional and democratic leadership.”

This exercise comes at a time when critics accuse Chombo and Zanu PF of using traditional chiefs to fight the MDC councillors currently constituting the majority of local authorities across the country.

Apart from traditional leadership, the local government minister has been criticised for appointing partisan “special interest councillors” to usurp power from the erstwhile opposition.

Chombo said his ministry was finalising marking boundaries for former white commercial farms that were seized during the land reform programme undertaken more than a decade ago.

He, however, said Harare and Bulawayo metropolitan provinces would not be affected by the exercise.

Last year government gazetted indigenisation and empowerment regulations compelling foreign-owned companies worth US$500 000 or more to dispose a 51% controlling interest to black Zimbabweans by 2015.

“We want chiefs to benefit from this asset especially mining so that 10% is really earmarked for the development of the area where the asset (mineral) is coming out so that they can build schools, clinics etc…If it gives more power to the chiefs, more money to the chiefs, I would agree on behalf of chiefs that it’s a good route. If Kasukuwere wants to increase it from 10-15%, as minister responsible for chiefs, I would agree,” Chombo said.

Speaking at the same event, Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere said his ministry is considering proposals by chiefs in pursuit of a broad-based economic empowerment policy.

“We need to bring about democracy in the economy. It can’t be good politically and bad economically,” he said. “If we say we can choose our leaders except our chiefs politically, then we must also be allowed to make decisions in terms of the economy. In terms of our mining resources, we are still running this sector based on the Rudd Concession.”

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