Vusumuzi Dube and Lungile Tshuma
SUSPENDED Zanu-PF Matabeleland South provincial secretary for lands Cde Jabulani Phetshu Sibanda has been sucked into the Insiza North land sales scandals amid allegations that he was going around threatening villagers from speaking to the media or mentioning the names of those who were illegally selling stands.
It has also been reported that Cde Phetshu confiscated and sold a water pump engine which was meant for the community.
Cde Phetshu is a close ally to Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Cde Andrew Langa, who was reportedly meant to officially open the stands and a dam in the area last Friday but the event was cancelled after the scandal was exposed by this paper last Sunday.
Both Minister Langa, who was the Zanu-PF Matabeleland South provincial chairperson and Cde Phetshu had a vote of no confidence passed against them in November last year for allegedly working with former Vice-President Joice Mujuru who wanted to topple President Mugabe.
In the alleged scandal, people were allegedly buying land for amounts ranging between $600 and $1 000 or for a single beast at Lochard just outside Mbembesi.
Villagers interviewed revealed that after the publication of an article exposing the scam last week, Cde Phetshu had now teamed up with those implicated in the scam and was threatening villagers saying he would “deal” with them.
The chief of the area, Chief Jahana, confirmed that people were now receiving death threats but urged the villagers not to be easily intimidated as the matter was now known by everyone hence the law would soon take its course.
“People are being told that they will be abducted. In one of our recent meetings people told me that they were told not to say any word against the culprits. But, I have told them that they should not be afraid. We are no longer at war where such acts were common. These people who are sending these death threats must therefore tell us that it’s now war and then we will also adopt war tactics,” fumed Chief Jahana.
Villagers interviewed fingered Cde Phetshu, saying he was at the forefront of the illegal sale of land hence his move to protect his mini-cabal.
“We are having sleepless nights, Phetshu addressed a meeting, where he threatened us saying we had no basis demanding back the engine which he took or making noise about the illegal sale of stands.
“He made it clear that they would deal with anyone who spoke to the media or tried to expose the scam,” said Mr Thabani Nkomo.
Another villager, Mr Moses Moyo said many people’s lives were now in danger but said they were never going to be intimidated by people who deserved to be in jail.
“They are going around at night telling us that will be abducted and our families will never see us again. For me, I will never keep quiet because I lost my money and I cannot allow people to intimidate me. Death threats will never deter me from asking for what is mine,” said Mr Moyo.
Contacted for comment, Cde Phetshu denied the allegations, boasting that if he was guilty the law should deal with him.
“If there are people who claim that I have been threatening them, I challenge them to go and report me to the police station. I always say if there are land sellers in the area, they should name and shame them, I am not scared of anyone,” he said.
The death threats come in the wake of reports that two ward councillors and 27 village heads in Insiza North constituency in Matabeleland South Province pocketed over $500 000 through the illegal sale of land.
In the alleged scam, the clique, led by Ward 22 and 23 councillors, Clr Edith Gumbo and Clr Felistus Sibanda, had now also created private villagers and appointed their own village heads, at some point even selling a single stand to two or three different people.