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Don't use that land, A.T. tells farmers

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MBABANE – Tibiyo Taka Ngwane is on the verge of defying a High Court order which was issued against it in 2000.

The order was with regard to land that was being disputed by Tibiyo and sugar cane farmers from Vuvulane.

The land in question is over 450 hectares at Vuvulane, in the Lubombo region.

On Wednesday this week, former Prime Minister, and Managing Director of Tibiyo Taka Ngwane Absalom Themba Dlamini relayed a message reportedly from His Majesty the King stating that the farmers should not use the over 450 hectares of unallocated land at Vuvulane.

The farmers have been using the land since a court judgment was made in their favour in 2000. A judgment by the Court of Appeal also confirmed the judgment that Tibiyo TakaNgwane had no control over the operations of the farm.

Backed by these judgments, the farmers have been using the land to grow crops.

However, the message relayed to them was clear: no farmer should make use of the unallocated land. Those farmers with crops on the land in question will after harvesting not make use of the land again until the King makes a decision, the message delivered by Dlamini said.

The farmers are convinced that the order is in defiance of the court ruling. Dlamini’s speech was, on Wednesday, recorded by the farmers and in the tape Dlamini is heard telling the farmers that they should seek an audience with the King as dictated by Swazi tradition.

The message has taken the farmers by surprise, as they accuse Tibiyo TakaNgwane of having intentions to undermine the authority of the courts.

However, Dlamini said he delivered the message as a mere messenger, in the company of one warrior Mbutfo Uyandzindza.

"He came with the police and representatives of the Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation (RSSC). He said he had a message from His Majesty the King saying the land that was not given to the farmers to use should not to be touched. That message shocked us because it is not something we expected," said Alan Mango.

Mango added that the courts stated clearly that the matter was sorted out in the year 2000, he said had they (farmers) been more informed they should have kicked out VIF Limited the company under Tibiyo Taka Ngwane when the judgment was delivered.

The farmers said they make use of unallocated land because their families have grown thus the need to grow vegetables at a larger scale for food and even to sell as means to generate income.

Another farmer Mpisi Dlamini said the farmers believed that the High Court judgment of 2000 sorted the matter, because Tibiyo even appealed the judgment but still lost in the Court of Appeal.

"This is an old matter and we thought the High Court had made its decision on it, and we expected all the parties to respect the order of the courts. However, it is obvious that Tibiyo Taka Ngwane will defy the ruling. We have lost so much money as Vuvulane farmers, we were the first sugar cane scheme in Swaziland but we have not made financial gains because of such problems. The courts said they should leave us alone, and that is exactly what they should do," said Dlamini.

Before the court cases began, there was a Commission of Enquiry into matters of VIF Limited headed by Prince Gabheni. The Commission, in its recommendations, pointed out that Vuvulane farmers were to be given more land because the portions they occupied were not economically viable as smallholder farm units.

Some of the farmers were allocated six hectares of land, yet the Commission of Enquiry concluded that 16 hectares could, in the future, be adopted as a standard size.

"This is definitely not the news we expected, there is a recommendation by a Commission of Enquiry that said more land was to be allocated to farmers. It is shocking to hear this, because, like we said, we expected to be given more land instead," said Lindiwe Nzima.

The 2000 High Court judgment had said VIF Limited, a company under Tibiyo TakaNgwane, had no control over the operations of Farm 860. The land in question was previously owned by the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC), which started a project to train Swazis to grow sugar cane.

The farmers said they are using the land because their portions that were initially allocated to them are small.

"We are growing crops on this land because the portions we were allocated were small. Our families have increased and the membership has grown extensively," said Mango.

King wants to bring order at Vuvulane - A.T

MBABANE – Absalom Themba Dlamini last night clarified that His Majesty the King intends to bring order at the Vuvulane.

Dlamini, who was sent by the King as a messenger, said it was unfortunate that the matter had been blown out of proportion. On that premise, Dlamini said he needed to clarify the intentions of His Majesty King in the matter.

"Firstly, I must state that it is unfortunate that the matter is being handled in this manner. This matter is not about a previous court judgment as it seems to be viewed now, no one is talking about that. It should be understood that, at the moment, the farmers use the land without any practical order in that they allocate themselves the land as they deem fit. That has to stop because a lot could happen if this allowed to go on. That is what His Majesty the King intends to do," said Dlamini.

Dlamini said farmers should realise the opportunity that was being presented to them after the King’s message. He said he was clear even during the meeting that the farmers were not being kicked out of the farm.

"As we speak there is no principle in the manner in which the farmers give themselves the land. What would happen if one farmer gets only two hectares of the unallocated land and the other gets 20 hectares: it is a potentially volatile situation if left unchecked. And that is where the King comes in and intends to bring order at Vuvulane. Inkhosi ayibulali bantfu bayo," said Dlamini last night. He said the misconceptions that have been created after his visit were apparent even during the meeting. Dlamini said he has no record as a controversial figure, so the farmers need not fear because the King has good intentions in the matter.

"Ngukuphi nje langike ngagwamandza khona? I am not like that," said Dlamini meaning "where have I used force or illicit ways to gain ground?"


Comments

Mr AT Dlamini should thread carefully when he relays messages to the people of Vuvulane, he shouldn't just address them as if he is their boss but must show that he comes as a messenger and his manner of approach should be different. It is not the message that is a problem but how people present themselves when supposedly sent by the King, they behave like they are the King themselves, actually the King doesn't do that towards his people. I have seen even some of the emabandla how they behave when allegedly sent by His Majesty, sometimes you are left wondering how does a King choose such people. Mr AT Dlamini has always been respected in the Mhlume and Vuvulane area and the general population is comfortable with him, however this time around uyilahlile lowekunene. Had he approached this issue cautiously there wasn't going to be any need for clarifications there of. Let me pin point something as well. In the light of giving more land to farmers there was an imminent threat of relocations which the farmers were not really addressed fairly through discussion but it was like telling toddlers that "we are going to move you from here to there" and that never sat good with the farmers. So in my opinion, the messengers of the king must have a manner of approach and should carry the messages from Our King with care. We are nothing but a group of people who make a living through tilling the soil and nothing else. All we ask for is respect towards us. We are also not comfortable with the regualr involvement of RSSC in our personal conversations save for tekulima where we have no problem having them around. Their involvement yenta shengatsi sebobasi betfu or rather some kind of Blue eyed boys, we don't appreciate that. Thank you.
Jun 17, 2011, 2:56 AM, Muzi (muzibash@yahoo.com)

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