Wenela residents cry foul

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KATIMA MULILO – Residents of  Wenela, who face eviction by the Zambezi Regional Council plan to send a petition to the governor to protest the move.

Eviction orders were served on them on the grounds that they are residing in the area illegally and to make way for a planned green scheme project.

In a petition seen by this reporter that was supposed to be handed over to Zambezi Regional Governor Lawrence Sampofu on Wednesday the  residents, who number 30 singled out Chief Regional Officer Regina Ndopu-Lubinda and the chairperson of the Zambezi Regional Council Raphael Mbala for condemnation over the move and claim that the two have ulterior motives. In the petition that could not be handed over, because Sampofu is out of town, they accused Ndopu-Lubinda of having a vested interest in the land in question and and query how the envisaged green scheme project in the area would be affected by their occupancy of the farm houses. “We would like to know from Regina Ndopu-Lubinda whether the green scheme project will start in the houses or at the farm. Why is the Ministry of Agriculture quite about this? We know that some officials of the regional council want to occupy the houses immediately when we vacate them. We want Ndopu-Lubinda  and her friend to declare the tomato project that she wants to start at Wenela,” reads the petition.

The residents who include three town council employees claim that they have guarded the farm houses that were left unoccupied by the NDC, when it winded up its farming activities a number of years ago.

“We came to settle at Wenela due to the vandalism taking place there. What did the regional council do to the properties that were left there? The houses were totally vandalised before we moved in,” the petition reads.

Residents further accuse the chairperson of Zambezi Regional Council who also serves as the Kabbe constituency councillor Raphael Mbala of involving himself in a matter that, according to them does not concern him.

“Why is Hon. Mbala so active in this issue, while his people (constituents) are suffering because of the floods,” the unsigned petition continues. According to the aggrieved residents many government plots and houses within the vicinity of Katima Mulilo remain undeveloped and that should occupy the attention of the regional council and not their occupancy of the houses at Wenela.

“There are so many houses belonging to the regional council that are vandalised. Why Wenela? If Ndopu and her officials want to stay nearby the river they must follow the right procedure by applying to the town council. There are so many government plots in town that are undeveloped.”

They also accuse the regional council of applying double standards, saying the owner of a bar in the same area has not been served with an eviction order. “Bezi Bar is busy constructing houses, but they were not served with an eviction letter. Is it because it is owned by a white person?” they charge in the petition. However, Ndopu-Lubinda last week denied having any personal interest in the area. “When it comes to the properties of the state no one is allowed to just enter when you see an empty property,” she said, adding that the correct procedures should be followed in order to obtain land or occupancy of property belonging to the regional council.

She further said any employer of the regional council found involving themselves in such kind of dubious actions would be dealt with. She cleared the air regarding the status of the bar and its owner in the area, saying an eviction order was already served on the owner.

Last week she also revealed that the regional council is prepared to look into the plight of the former farm workers, who still reside at the farm, but added that such efforts were hampered by town council employees who continue to incite other residents to demonstrate against the regional council.

The Ministry of Agriculture was allocated the land at Wenela in order to start a green scheme project. Plans to stage a protest last week fell through the mat, as a result of the failure to notify the office of the regional governor. The residents were given until the end of March to vacate the houses on the farm.


By George Sanzila