(Last Updated on March 8, 2021 by GERALD NCUBE)
By Tendai Biti
We have spent a few days in the Chiredzi Chilonga area visiting and listening to compatriots in Chiredzi South and East. We have met with ordinary citizens, community leaders and traditional leaders. We have travelled huge distances to places such as Chikombedzi, Malipati Boli, Gonarezhou.
We have seen and heard from a tortured, insecure and angry citizen in the Shangani communities so dominant in this part of the Lowveld. This is a community that has suffered displacements twice before. In the 60s they were removed from the Hippo Valley area to make way for sugar estates.
They were then ejected to pave way for huge eco reserves, Gona Rezhou National Park and Malilangwe Reserve. They subsequently rebuilt their lives in South Eastern Lowveld in areas mulcted by tsetse fly, high temperatures, wild animals, poverty and infrastructure deficits.
Years of alienation isolation exclusion & reification make these communities feel like outsiders. Without access in some cases to Zim services such as radio, mobile networks gas stations never mind jobs hospitals & schools there is greater connection with Mozambique and South Africa.
The Chilonga displacements are thus the ultimate invasion and insult on these communities. They have been told 12500 will be ejected and 9000 hectares taken under phase one. When Phase 2 and 3 are completed a massive 21 000 hectares of their land would have been confiscated.
For a community that participated in liberation struggle, they don’t understand why they should be ejected for only their land to be given to one white man. They already do contract farming for Delta and they can’t understand why they can’t contract farm lucerne for the white man.
In view of masses of pieces of underutilized agricultural land dotted in their region, they didn’t understand why same land is not being used for the lucerne project.They don’t understand why cattle grass has become more important than people or the small grains they produce.
They strongly feel that that they are victims not just of greed and avarice but also of tribal rejection as an ethnic minority. They know that the regime has in 41 years been cruel and extractive against ethnic minorities. They have suffered displacements, genocide and exclusion.