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» » » Chiredzi Grass Project: Govt okays eviction of over 1 000 families

...ZLHR makes date in court

Beatific Gumbwanda

Despite valiant efforts by Sengwe communal land leaders to reject a multi-million dollar Lucerne grass project by a Kwekwe based dairy company, Dendairy, which was to take huge chunks of land and displace thousands of their people, the government has okayed the ‘forceful’ eviction of the families from their lands.

Over 1 000 families from Chilonga and Mutomani areas have been, through the recently gazette Statutory Instrument 50 of 2021, forced to vacate their ancestral land together with their property and pave way for the Lucerne grass project.

Statutory Instrument 50 of 2021 (Communal Land Setting aside of Land (Chiredzi, notice 2021), published in the Government Gazetted last week,  Local Government minister July Moyo said villagers occupying the land should start packing  their belongings in order to pave way for the grass project.

“The minister of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development in terms of section 10 of the Communal Land Act (Chapter 20, 04), hereby makes the following notice: - This notice may be cited as the communal land (setting aside of land) (Chiredzi) notice, 2021.

“The area of land described hereunder in terms of this schedule shall be set aside with effect from the date of publication of this notice for the purpose of lucerne production.

“Any person occupying or using the land specified in the schedule, otherwise than by virtue of a right held in terms of the Mines and Minerals Act (Chapter 21,05), is ordered to depart permanently with all of his or her property from the said land by the date of publication of this notice, unless he or she acquires rights of use of occupation to the said land in terms of section (9) (1) of the Communal Land Act (Chapter (20,04)," reads the notice.

In the Statutory Instrument 51 of 2021 under the Communal Land (Excision of Land) (Notice 2021), President Mnangagwa ruled that the 13k ha had seized from being part of Chiredzi Communal Lands.

"His Excellence the President, in terms of section 61 (1) (b) of the communal Land Act (Chapter 20:04), hereby makes the following notice: - This notice might be cited as the communal land (Excision land) Notice, 2021.

"The area of land described hereunder in terms of the schedule shall cease to be part of the Chiredzi Communal Land," reads the notice.

The Lucerne grass project will be undertaken on a piece of land spanning about 13 000 hectares.

Dendairy, a private milk producer, is the major investor of the project targeting almost 10 000 hectares of arable land for the Lucerne production project meant for local and international markets.

Villagers had been resisting the project as they fear a repeat of the 2014 Chingwizi saga, where more than 3 000 villagers from Chivi and Masvingo villagers were dumped in Chingwizi, while being allocated 1 hectare piece of land for cattle rearing, farming and construction of dwellings.

Masvingo Provincial Development Coordinator (PDC) Jeftar Sakupwanya could not be drawn into comment as his mobile went unanswered but TellZim News is reliably informed that the government is yet to secure land to settle the affected families.

The Zimbawe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) told TellZim News that they would be making a court application challenging the legality of the evictions.

“We are busy making a court application in which we will be challenging the legality of the evictions.

“In two days we will be ready to present our case,” said ZLHR lawyer Obey Shava.

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