(Last Updated on March 3, 2021 by GERALD NCUBE)
HARARE – The government is facing widespread criticism over the recently gazetted statutory instrument seeking to evict over 12 000 Chilonga villagers to make way for Dendairy’s lucerne grass project.
Through SI 50/2021, Local Government Minister July Moyo said the land was reserved for the grass farming project.
However, civil society organisations and ordinary citizens have condemned this action, arguing government should not just arbitrarily drive people out of their ancestral lands.
The country’s biggest opposition party, MDC Alliance said it was unconstitutional for government to drive away people from their ancestral land.
“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 beneficiary to the community. The livelihoods, cultural practices, dignity, land rights and knowledge systems stand to be irreparably harmed,” said the party’s Secretary for Local Government and Rural Development, Sesil Zvidzai.
“We call for investment models that lead to shared prosperity and community development. We demand that the rights to dignity, property and freedom from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment as well as freedom from arbitrary eviction of the Chilonga people be respected unreservedly,” he added.