MPs report on Ndumo land grab

2010-09-23 00:00

POOR government communication and its failure to honour promises to community members is the main cause of the problems experienced at the Ndumo Game Reserve, the parliamentary oversight committee established.

For the past two days, the oversight committee on Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development have been on an inspection trip at the Ndumo reserve after it was invaded by community members wanting to farm there.

The Bhekabantu and Mbangweni communities living on the eastern border of the Ndumo Game Reserve pulled down 11 km of game fencing to cultivate land in the game reserve.

They threatened to pull the fence down again if it was re-erected and invade the reserve unless issues over a land claim, service delivery and poverty alleviation are addressed.

The land on which the reserve is located was apparently claimed by the community and handed back to them. The community signed a memorandum of understanding untertaking not to interfere with the parts considered protected land.

The government’s poor communication and its failure to honour the promises it made angered the destitute community.

“All the community really wanted was farming land and they farmed in Mozambique. However, after the xenophobic incidents here, they were victimised in that area and they decided to invade the land that they believed was theirs,” said a member of the delegation, who declined to be named.

The source said the situation in Ndumo is a “sad” one. “After the community removed the fencing, the animals easily found their way to the community, who in turn invaded the [reserve] and decimated the environment, burning down trees that would be difficult to replant.”

“There is a great deal of … mistrust ... even the community representatives declined to meet the committee because they feared that once the government leaves and does not honour the promises, they will be held to account.”

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