By A Correspondent- Finance minister Mthuli Ncube has been accused of building lodges on a sacred site reserved for cultural ceremonies in his rural home in Matobo district, Matabeleland South province.
The area is located in Chap village, a few kilometres from Matopo National Park.
Villagers told Southern Eye that the area is sacred, hence Ncube’s project would defile it.
“For thousands of years, the area has been known for its uniqueness and strange things that used to happen there. One could hear people speaking, cooking and dancing, but if you reach the area you do not see anything,” Vusumuzi Dube, a villager said.
“Because of such things we were told that no one has to build a house there. That is why none of the villagers decided to occupy that place. Do you think no one wanted to build or farm in that area?”
Another villager, Sithandazile Dube said local traditional leaders raised concern over Ncube’s project and appear to have been cowed into submission by government.
“We tried to ask our leaders to stand up and fight for our heritage, but we yielded nothing. When people raised concerns about the Ncube’s project in that area, we were told that he was given permission by government,” Dube said.
“Mthuli was born and raised here; he is the same person who should be protecting our culture. It is unfortunate that there is nothing we can do about it. We will just watch as they destroy our culture. Our heritage is slowly vanishing, it can be this place today and tomorrow it will be somewhere else. There used to be nice caves here called Bhabharadzi, where tourists used to come and visit, but now, even the road has been destroyed.”
Matobo District Council chief executive officer Elvis Sibanda confirmed the project.
“We are aware that the Finance minister is building lodges in Chap area near Whitewater village in Matobo, but I’m not sure if he was given permission to do so by the villagers,” Sibanda said.
“We are not aware that the area is a sacred place that needs to be reserved for cultural heritage. If the villagers are complaining, then the matter needs to be resolved.”
Ncube’s spokesperson Clive Mphambela declined to comment on the matter saying it was personal.
“This is a personal issue that I would not like to talk about as I believe that Ncube is better placed to comment. But, generally the project commenced in 2015 with the permission of cultural leaders and the Road Trust,” Mphambela said.
“The project is meant to benefit members of the community apart from tourists. There is a cultural centre that will be accessible not only to tourists, but also members of the community.”
Mphambela said Ncube had lined up several projects to uplift Matobo district.
“The minister is currently working on two projects which are borehole drilling and building lodges.
“The aim is to drill more than 22 boreholes around Matobo district. So far we have managed to drill 22 boreholes,” he said.
“We are hoping that these boreholes will reduce shortages of water in that district as well as sustain those who do animal and crop farming.”