By Tonderai Saharo
VILLAGERS in Murinye communal area in the north eastern parts of rural Masvingo are up in arms with their traditional chief whom they accuse of forced labour and denying some of them food aid.
The villagers from Boroma have since written to Chief Fortune Charumbira, president of the Zimbabwe Chiefs’ Council seeking his intervention.
They accuse Chief Murinye of forcing them to mould bricks and cut thatching grass meant to build his new homestead he forcibly occupied.
The villagers also accuse their traditional leader of forcing them to pay US$20 per homestead to receive food aid.
“Chief Murinye is currently settling in the Kyle Game Park at a site which was previously allocated to Great Zimbabwe University for its campus but was later abandoned because it was too close to the dam and the game park,” read part of the letter to Chief Charumbira.
“We are now in shock to see the chief constructing houses at the very same site. We seek your clarity Hon Charumbira as to what is the exact position regarding that piece of land.
“We all know that our supreme law, the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Number 20 Act 2013 is totally against forced labour.
“Again, the same constitution mandates everyone including the Chiefs through your esteemed office to respect, protect and uphold it as the grand norm of our land.
“We are sad to report to you that contrary to the dictates of the law, chief Murinye is forcing villagers to mould bricks, gather thatching grass and stones among other laborious activities. All these for his benefit.”
According to the clan, their area is one of the most underdeveloped rural areas in the province and is without a secondary school.
The area is drought prone with villagers mainly relying on government and NGOs for food handouts.
The villagers are accusing their leader of milking them to receive the aid.
“We are saddened by the conduct of our chief. He forced all of us as the people of Boroma to pay $3 USD for delivery of maize which was to come.
“Upon delivery, everyone was again forced to pay a further US$7 in order to get a 20kg of maize. In all fairness, this is exploitation of the poor people,” reads part of the letter.
The villagers have also raised legitimacy issues around their traditional leader after seeking clarity on who exactly was chief of their area between Munye and Chief Mugabe who both claim jurisdiction of the area.