THE government has resumed the controversial process of taking over land in Chilonga to pave way for the production of lucerne by Kwekwe-based company Dendairy amid massive protests from locals who fear that the move will see most of them being left homeless.

The move came a few weeks after Chilonga villagers were taken to Kwekwe on a learning programme where they visited Dendairy farms on a two-day visit.

Recently, Agriculture minister Anxious Masuka, minister of State for Masvingo Ezra Chadzamira and minister of Presidential Affairs Lovemore Matuke visited Mutomani Business Centre in Chilonga under heavily armed police guard where villagers protested by refusing to sit on chairs or enter a tent which was set for them. They even refused to eat food which was prepared for them as a way of expressing anger about the lucerne programme.

Tempers flared when Chadzamira threatened villagers by telling them that female donkeys resist males by kicking but they end up being pregnant, meaning that even if the communities resist, the programme will go ahead.

Community leader in Chilonga Livison Chikutu told The NewsHawks that it is surprising that the government resumed the process of establishing lucerne plantations in Chilonga despite fierce resistance from the villagers. He said the visit to Kwekwe and the coming of ministers in Chilonga was well-timed and lacked consultation as there was nowhere in the processes where villagers were asked if they are accepting the programme.

“We wrote a petition way back, but to our surprise they are coming addressing us without responding to our petition, which is more than a year old now. It is clear and everyone knows that we are not supporting this programme. If they truly say we are the beneficiaries, they should listen to us, we don’t want those benefits. They should go with the project somewhere else,” said Chikutu.

Hapious Chikutu, who is Chiredzi Rural District councillor for ward 6 which covers Chilonga area, said villagers are still in the dark about how the project is going to be implemented since they are not being given information regarding their fate. He said during a visit to Kwekwe villagers were just asked to look and learn about the project but were not told how they will benefit. He also said the visit by ministers only yielded threats, exposing the government’s double standards.

“I went to Kwekwe, but as locals we were expecting to get more information about the programme but nothing was discussed. We also thought the programme was now under the bridge, not knowing that they were waiting for elections so that they can come again. People are in fear, they don’t know what will happen next. During a visit at Mutomani by ministers, locals refused to sit in a tent which was erected for them, choosing instead to stand a distance away from the VIP tent and that was a sign of discontent,” said Chikutu.

Chiredzi district development coordinator Lovemore Chisema told The NewsHawks that he was out of the country so he failed to attend the Mutomani meeting and promised to issue a statement to The NewsHawks once his subordinates briefed him.

A village head from Makhosiya said villagers once held a meeting with a Dendairy senior executive near Chipindai pools where the executive confided in them that his company was in need of only 2000 hectares but senior politicians are the once who also want to be beneficiaries using the facilities which will be set by Dendairy, therefore bringing the land required to more than 12 000 hectares. He said it will be fair for the government to give
Dendairy an opportunity to talk to the people directly without the involvement of politicians.

“In 2019 we held a meeting with one of the senior executives of the company and the guy told us that his company only need sizeable land and politicians were the ones pushing up the size of required land since they also want to be part of the project. This is the same as what happened to sugarcane farming where they kept on gazzetting land belonging to Tongaat Hulett for their benefit,” said the traditional leader.

The MP for Chiredzi South, Joel Sithole, told The NewsHawks that the project will benefit villagers but there is a need for the responsible authorities to be clear on how the project will be implemented. He said there must be a clear and fair consultative programme where villagers will be part of the process.

“I am still a new parliamentarian since I was voted into office last year well after this project was launched. I am still in the process of learning what is happening, but from my observations there should be a comprehensive consultative programme where villagers should be involved,” said Sithole.

Masvingo Centre for Research and Advocacy Development programmes director Ephraim Mthombeni said the unplanned displacement of the Shangaan people is disastrous since it will disturb their livelihoods, cultural identity and land rights. He said the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission should be alert and monitor human rights violations taking place in Chilonga.

“The planned forced displacements amongst Shangaan people by the Zimbabwean government is disastrous. The unplanned forced evictions will disrupt their livelihoods, cultural practices and identity, indigenous knowledge and their land rights and other general human rights. Excluding them from consultations and decision making subjects them to unprecedented stress and suffering before, during and after the evictions. The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission should be alive and monitor human rights violations that are taking place in Chilonga as a result of this proposed lucerne project,” said Mthombeni. — NewsHawks

2 thoughts on “Chilonga land takeover resumes

  1. It’s unfair ruling, all of a sudden we’ve not benefited before in Tongat, we’ve been dispatched by the same ruling part some years ago….. please let us know where we’re belonging because gvt is abusing our human rights

  2. It’s unfair ruling, all of a sudden we’ve not benefited before in Tongat, we’ve been dispatched by the same ruling part some years ago….. please let us know where we’re belonging because gvt is abusing our human rights,Deffered dreams!!

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