In Solidarity with People of Ingezi in Defending Community Land Against Business Interests
Kadoma City Council Implicated in Community Land Grab
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) is greatly disturbed by the reports that Kadoma City Council is conniving with one Father Flowers, a Kadoma-based businessman with connections to the ruling ZANU PF party, to grab community land that has served the Ingezi community since 1954. Father Flowers wants to convert the land for his own business use. ZimRights stands in solidarity with the Ingezi Community in condemning this unwarranted land grab which is a sign of the growing disregard for the rights of the community.
Sometime in 2022, the Ingezi Sports Community heard rumours that the Kadoma City Council had sold Ingezi Grounds, also locally known as Chibuku Grounds, to a local businessman known in the area as Father Flowers. Ingezi Grounds is in Ward 1, Muzvezve Constituency in Kadoma, Mashonaland West, Zimbabwe. The Ingezi Grounds have been a home for community activities, sports tournaments, and other recreational activities since 1954. The grounds are used for soccer, handball, netball, volleyball, and athletics. It is the host ground for Muzvezve Constituency tournaments, school games, soccer division 2 clubs, among many other community gatherings. Over 13 000 community members benefit from this social facility. The current Member of Parliament (MP) for Muzvezve Constituency is Hon. Vago Harritatoes of ZANU PF. The Councilor for Ward 1 which houses the grounds is Mr. James Maluso of the Citizen Coalition for Change (CCC). The Mayor for the City of Kadoma is Mr. Nigel Razario of CCC. The composition of these duty bearers shows that this is an issue that cuts across both political parties that committed to represent the community in the just ended elections and endorsed the People’s Human Rights Manifesto.
In the quest for clarity from their duty-bearers, in 2022, the community leadership approached the previous Mayor of Kadoma, His Worship Nyamukondiwa who denied any knowledge of the sale of the grounds. The community also approached the previous Councilor for Ward 1, Mr. Luke Phiri who stated that a resolution for the sale of the grounds had been rejected by the council.
In August 2023, the Ingezi community saw the city council plumper coming to install water connections on the grounds. Some unknown people allegedly deployed by Father Flowers also brought in cabins to begin construction works on the grounds. The community became convinced that their grounds were now being gabbed and mobilized each other to resist the development. The community approached the current Councilor for Ward 1, Mr. James Maluso to ask for information and he professed ignorance. The community approached the previous Councilor Mr. Luke Phiri who noted that there was no council resolution on the sale of the land. Councilor Maluso committed to investigate the matter and bring information to the community. On 29 September 2023, Councillor Maluso addressed the community giving feedback and stated he had been assured that the grounds had not been sold. He stated that what was sold was the land next to the grounds. In the evening that followed, Councilor Maluso was arrested by the police on unclear allegations related to the issue. The community wrote to the current Mayor for Kadoma, His Worship Nigel Rosario. On 2 October 2023, after touring the grounds, the mayor addressed the community and confirmed that the grounds had been sold to Father Flowers to build his private school. The community expressed its disapproval and informed the mayor that they will not give up their grounds. Mr. Moses Makarichi, the Secretary for the Ingezi Sports Committee confirmed that they had officially written to all council officials and authorities clearly stating their position. No response has been given yet. There are fears that Kadoma City Council may have corruptly handled the issue and their failure to provide coherent information is a cause for concern to the community.
Harassment of Community Leaders
As the Ingezi Grounds issue escalates, ZimRights has received reports that the leaders of Ingezi Community have started receiving threats of retribution from the local authorities. Community members have been receiving calls from unknown people making various threats. ZimRights Regional Chairperson for Mashonaland West Mr. Phillip Muketiwa confirmed that he received distress calls from community human rights defenders saying they had been asked to report to the police.
Kadoma City Council Must Respect the Rights of Ingezi Community
ZimRights calls upon the Kadoma City Council to respect the rights of the residents of Ingezi. Ahead of the 2023 elections, the Kadoma leadership from all political parties signed the People’s Human Rights Manifesto and committed to upholding the 10 key human rights asks. The Ingezi Grounds issue is a clear violation of these commitments. Political leaders are encouraged to stand and fight on the side of the people and avoid getting into bed with business interests that are harmful to the interests of the community. ZimRights National Director, Mr. Dzikamai Bere said political leaders have an obligation to stand up for the people.
“The ballot ink is still wet. The leadership of Kadoma and Muzvezve cannot afford to be indifferent while the rights of their people are being trampled upon. They made noise during elections and people stood for them. Now is the time for them to stand for the people.” Bere said.
On 12 April 2023, ZimRights National Chairperson Mr. Takesure Musiiwa presented the People’s Human Rights Manifesto to all opposition political parties in Zimbabwe, who in turn committed to upholding the 10 key asks. On 8 August 2023, Mr. Musiiwa also presented the Manifesto to the President and First Secretary for the ruling ZANU PF, President Emmerson Mnangagwa who appended his signature and committed that his party would uphold the Manifesto.
Key ask number 7 of the People’s Human Rights Manifesto states,
“The land is our most treasured national resource as Zimbabweans. We belong to the land, and it belongs to us. Our constitution acknowledges that citizens have the right to possess and own land in Zimbabwe.”
Politicians cannot say one thing during elections, then do the opposite after the elections. The Ingezi Community must have their right to Ingezi Grounds protected. They started enjoying this right in 1954. Even the colonial government did not interfere with this right. It is shameful for a black government, under the watch of an opposition controlled municipality, to now corruptly seek to dispossess the community of their land and giving it to elite business interests.
The Call to Action
ZimRights calls upon the Kadoma City Council to do the following:
- Reverse any purported sale of Ingezi Community Grounds to Father Flowers or any other private player.
- Make a clear commitment to the Ingezi Community that they will respect the community’s right to enjoy their land and all the social privileges it provides free from interference.
- Investigate allegations of corrupt land deals in the city council involving politicians and the business elite.
- Desist from threatening and harassing community human rights defenders in Kadoma and specifically the leaders of the Ingezi community who are standing up for the rights of their community.
ZimRights calls upon the national and global human rights community to stand in solidarity with the Ingezi Community. ZimRights calls upon the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) to launch a special investigation into the Ingezi Grounds issue to ensure that the rights of the Ingezi Community are protected.
ZimRights calls upon the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate allegations of corrupt land deals in the Kadoma City Council.
ZimRights will continue to stand in solidarity with communities against elite business and political interests.
Issued by the ZimRights Human Rights Monitoring and Response Action Zone