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MANZINI – A total of 25 families of Mahlabatsini felt tricked into giving up their land on the pretext for their own development which never happened.

This area is at St Phillip’s under Chief Mshikashika Ngcamphalala. The families said for three years now, they have been unable to farm either for sale or subsistence purposes after the Swaziland Water and Agricultural Development Enterprise (SWADE) failed to keep up to its end of the deal. These are the households that were moved in 2006 from where Lubovane Dam was later constructed.

According to some of the affected families, when the idea of moving was sold to them by SWADE, they were promised that their lives would be developed and that they would be assisted in starting income-generating projects like piggery and chicken rearing. However, after they were aided in building their houses in the new location in 2007, the families alleged that SWADE changed tune and provided 25 tunnels which were meant to be used by the former for growing crops for sale.

At first, the families said they refused to accept the new offer because the area they had been moved to had water challenges hence growing crops would not be viable. However, SWADE allegedly persisted in the greenhouse crop-growing project and offered that water would be availed for irrigation. The agreement was that the organisation would assist the households with the pilot project for the duration of two years.
Conversely, the assistance is said to have been availed by SWADE for only a year in 2014. One member of the affected families said SWADE provided the community with drinking water where residents from the area needed to pay for continual functionality of the taps. However, since some of the households could not afford, the water service was cut off.

Reasons for the short-lived partnership between the community and the organisation were never explained.
“Some of us have no other source of income except for growing crops for sale; which we no longer afford because the area has no sufficient water supply. This caused a problem in the community which is one of the reasons we could not continue with the project,” said Tsabile Vilakati, the Chairperson of the project; Umtfombotsini.

The need for assistance in this kind of project was vital because the crops needed to be grown in special plastic bags with the use of sawdust and other technologies which the families were not familiar with. Also, they could not afford the resources needed to sustain this type of growing crops. Furthermore, they still needed to be taught the various crops best grown in greenhouses because not all crops could be grown there. 
Vilakati said this had drastically affected the selected families because most of them have no other source of income and the projects promised to them raised hope that they would fight poverty and make a living out of the proceeds of their produce.


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