(Last Updated on March 5, 2021 by GERALD NCUBE)
CHIREDZI – The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association(ZELA) has on behalf of its clients taken the government to court over the recently gazetted Statutory Instrument 50/2021 which seeks to evict more 12 000 Chilonga villagers to set up a lucerne farming project by Dendairy.
ZELA filed two applications simultaneously at the Masvingo High Court on behalf of the Masvingo Centre for Research Advocacy and Community Development Trust (MACRAD Trust) and one Livson Chikutu, who are cited as the first and second applicants.
The Minister of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development, July Moyo and Chiredzi Rural District Council are cited as the 1st and 2nd respondents respectively.
Minister of Lands, Dr Anxious Masuka and the Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister were cited as the 3rd and 4th respondents in the court papers filed.
There has been a massive public outcry over the potential eviction of thousands of Chilonga villagers to pave way for the dairy company’s project.
The main opposition, the MDC Alliance condemned these evictions, with party Secretary for Local Government Sesil Zvidzai saying the evictions were unconstitutional.
“At least 12,500 villagers in Chilonga, Chiredzi face imminent eviction from their ancestral land to facilitate a ten thousand hectare Lucerne grass project by Dendairy (Pvt) Ltd. The eviction of these persons is arbitrary and unconstitutional as section 71(3) of the Constitution does not allow for the deprivation of property for commercial purposes that are not beneficial to the community. The livelihoods, cultural practices, dignity, land rights and indigenous knowledge systems stand to be irreparably harmed,” said Zvidzai.
Twitter has been flooded with calls for Zimbabweans to boycott Dendairy products as a form of protest.
Earlier today, an environmental rights group, Green Governance Zimbabwe Trust (GGT) said this decision violated the fundamental rights set out in the Constitution.
“It is our conviction that this decision, to evict 2258 households with 13 840 people infringes on fundamental rights and freedoms set out in the Constitution,” the organisation said.
Reports say Dendairy is eyeing approximately 10 000 hectares of arable land in the area for the lucerne project.