Mayeyi Want Their Ancestral Land Back

Some members of the Mayeyi Khuta who were uprooted from Mudumo National Park in the Zambezi Region by the colonial regime over three decades ago, want their ancestral land returned.

Close to 100 villagers were removed from their ancestral land in the 80s by the apartheid administration to pave the way for the Mudumo reserve that at that time was proclaimd a national park.

The villagers were relocated to Liyanshulu Village in Linyanti Constituency where they settled for over 30 years until last year when they demanded that government relocate them back to their ancestral land in Mudumo. They are invoking their ancestral rights over the park.

Their claim was ignited when officials from the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement visited Liyanshulu to register people for land rights in the communal areas last year.

Confirming the claim, Linyanti and Judea Lyamboloma constituencies councillor Cletus Sipapela yesterday said: “When the ministry of lands came to register people at Liyanshulu, the group that previously lived there told those who were relocated from the park that they cannot be registered there because their ancestral land is in the park. And that is when the scramble started.”

Without any authorisation, the affected community decided to leave Liyanshulu Village and started squatting on a piece of land near the park, which teems with dangerous wildlife such as elephant, hyena and lion.

Currently the group is without water and their children have to walk long distances to and from school at Liynashulu through the game-rich forests.

The issue of relocation has been dragging on for over a year now since the group met with their traditional and regional council as well as the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, which is responsible for national parks.

“When we heard that they moved near the park, Governor Lawrence Sampofu and I, as well as their traditional authority, went there to have a meeting with them. At the time we reached an agreement that regional and local government would consult with the ministry of environment on whether they can be allocated a piece of land from the park but not to reside inside the park,” Sipapela explained.

According to him, an agreement was reached and the environment ministry and governor’s office are looking into the matter.

Last week, the group held a peaceful demonstration demanding answers to why the government is “taking long” to respond to their plight.

Sipapela who last week went to see the group sympathised with them.

“I think it is a matter of patience. It is true one can understand the pressure. They are dependent on farming for their livelihood.

“They need land to plough, as people in this part of the country are currently preparing their fields for ploughing season,” said Sipapela.

Currently the group gets some water from the Roads Contractor Company (RCC) that is busy constructing the MR125 road in the area.

“Water is a problem where they live. Their source of water is not sustainable because RCC’s main focus is to use it to construct the road. They (RCC) are just doing it on a humanitarian basis,” the councillor said.

Chief Boniface Shufu of the Mayeyi Traditional Authority suspects someone could have instigated his subjects to pack up and leave their homes.

“I told them to go back to their village but they refused. They told me they want to go back to their ancestral land. The Minister of Environment and Tourism (Uahekua Herunga) took down their demands and promised to solve them. Maybe there is someone pushing them.

“They left their homes and all the government benefits behind such as school and water provision to go suffer. They also get benefits from Barerwa Conservancy since many are employed there,” the chief told New Era yesterday when contacted for comment.

Herunga was unavailable for comment at the time of going to print.

Source : New Era