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In Catembe, there are a number of households occupying about three hectares of land in the Inkassane neighbourhood in block 17 of the Mutsekwa area- They are disputing the land with the municipal authorities, who want them removed to make room for a vocational training school.
The families have presented documents for the regularisation of the land in question, and refuse to leave, claiming it belongs to them and that the municipality is being unfair to “the population”.
Helena Chilaule has been living in Block 17 for more than 20 years, and her concern is the 100 square meters she uses for her corn and peanut crop. She lives on land where the technical-vocational school is now supposed to be built and, like many other “natives”, she refuses to leave.
“They said we should leave here but we refuse, because we do not want to go anywhere else, we just want our space. About the school they want to build: here behind us there is empty space which has never been cultivated since we arrived. They can go put the school there,” she says.
Ana Ernesto, another of those involved, says that the authorities are acting grossly unfairly and that they are being punished for belonging to a particular ethnic group, because they are all Xanganas.
“I’ve got about three-and-a-half farms in my machamba. There was no problem but, as soon as he was placed as secretary of the neighbourhood, he came to grab land from us, to sell. Should we just watch, just accept it? My son cannot inherit the land I cultivated: he must go buy land from the authorities. Does that make sense?” she demands to know.
The residents, who, O País stresses, are mostly “natives”, say they have occupied the space for more than 20 years.
The Catembe municipal district councillor says that the population should vacate the area, because the construction of a school in that area is part of the Catembe urban development plan, and promises the families will be given new land.
“Our interest is the public good, and we will find ways to fit these people in and to reimburse if they have any reconstruction to do. After we announced that there was to be a school for the community, the first thing we did was to identify the people who occupied the area,” he noted.
The councilman, António Tovela, assured that this will be “the best way to solve the problem with the populations”, adding that building the school will bring “much more benefits to the local population and its youngsters”.