Rhodesian land deeds in modern Zimbabwe
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CTA. 2001. Rhodesian land deeds in modern Zimbabwe. Rural Radio Resource Pack 01/4. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to cite or share this item: https://hdl.handle.net/10568/57317
For much of the last century the Fengu people living near Bulawayo in Zimbabwe, have held title deeds to their land. In this report the chief of the Fengu explains how the title deeds have helped them, and how his people are responding to the current land redistribution programme in Zimbabwe.
Rhodesian land deeds in modern Zimbabwe Cue: For much of the last century the Fengu people living north west of Bulawayo had an unusual advantage over most Africans in Zimbabwe; they held title deeds for their land. These deeds were recognised by successive white settler governments, and helped the Fengu to keep their land when other people were forced to move, in making way for settler farms. How they obtained those deeds is a story that involves one of the most famous settlers of all, Cecil John Rhodes. Busani Bafana spoke to Michael Ndondo, the current chief of the Fengu, and asked him about their unusual possession of title deeds, and how it was affecting his people during the modern period of land resettlement. IN: ? Well it has been a long ?? OUT: ? ? the government is going to do.? DUR?N 3?43? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Chief Michael Ndondo on his hopes for the Fengu people in Zimbabwe. Transcript Ndondo Well it has been a long and bitter battle for the Xhosa people in Zimbabwe. From as early as 1927 the then government of Rhodesia wanted the Xhosa people in Mbembesi to be moved. It was at a time when most African people were being removed from the fertile areas of the country, which were also in the highvelt, moved to low lying areas, with low productivity, and the Xhosa people were asked to leave, but then they resisted. Then they claimed that they had been given this land by Cecil John Rhodes, and what they were claiming was rightfully theirs, because they had been made to leave their own land, to which they had property rights, in the Cape Colony in South Africa. The government then decided to give them plots equal to those which they had left in South Africa. It was then that 177 ten acre plots were demarcated for them. Bafana We understand the Xhosa people are some of the few in Zimbabwe who have access to title deeds. Could you fill us in on how they came about acquiring these title deeds? Ndondo Well, in 1938 there was what was known as the Bullock Commission, which carried out a survey on the property rights of the Xhosa people in Zimbabwe. And they claimed the land that they had originally held in the Cape Colony in South Africa. It was then that the Fengu Location Land Distribution Act was put in place, offering 177 plots to those who were entitled to them, and it is the same act by which we still hold those title deeds. Bafana And how has your ownership of the title deeds benefited you in the way that you are actually using your land today? Ndondo Well in the first place the ownership of the title deeds has been the cornerstone of our resistance to being moved by successive white settler governments. Because having title to the land, it was legally impossible for them to remove us. Bafana Today, there is a very big debate about land redistribution, and in fact the government of Zimbabwe has introduced what is called the Fast Track System. How has this affected your people if at all? Ndondo Well some of the descendants of the title holders, decided to go for resettlement, because there was better land. The rest remained, but the land holding in Mbembesi is communal. People are not necessarily doing their farming activities on those plots to which they claim titles. It has always been a communal set-up. Bafana And so how do many of them actually use the land? Ndondo We use the land for both tillage and pastoral farming. Bafana And looking into the future, what do you hope will actually happen as far as the issue of land management in this area, given that some of the people have moved from their original lands? Ndondo Well the current land use plan is for a communal type of land use, and we have made a request to government to extinguish those title deeds, so that we live together in a communal set-up. Bafana And do you think that will happen? Ndondo Yes I?m positive that is what the government is going to do. End of tape.
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