HARARE – The government, which has been under fire over displacement of Chilonga community the since the publication of Statutory Instrument (SI) 50 of 2021, has amended the SI as it seeks to bring clarity to controversial issue.
According to new SI 63A of 2021, the government now says that villagers in Chilonga (Chiredzi Communal) are making way for the establishment of an irrigation scheme not lurcene production as was stated in the initial SI.
“In section 2 by the deletion of the words “purpose of lurcene production” and substitution of “establishment of an irrigation scheme.”
On February 26, government promulgated SI 50 of 2021, ordering the villagers to vacate their ancestral land to pave way for a lucerne production project by Dendairy, a company based in Kwekwe.
The SI read: “Communal Land (Excision of Land) (Notice, 2021): His Excellency, the President, in terms of section 6(1) (b) of the Communal Land Act [Chapter 20:04], hereby makes the following notice:— 1. This notice may be cited as the Communal Land (Excision of Land) Notice, 2021. 2. The area of land described hereunder in terms of the schedule shall cease to be part of the Chiredzi Communal Land.”
The area covers 12 940 hectares.
The initial Statutory Instrument had attracted widespread criticism as people expressed concern over the use of a colonial act to evict a community from its ancestral lands. On the other hand, the government argued that the move is a developmental project which is meant to empower the community and no one will be displaced with Masvingo Resident Minister Ezra Chadzamira saying the Government had done due diligence and consulted widely with the local community and their leadership to get their buy-in for the project.
“First and foremost, as Government we want to make it clear that nobody will be removed from their ancestral land under this US$60 million lucerne grass project that is in line with President Mnangagwa’s Vision 2030,” he said.
The government argues that the USD60 million lucerne grass project in Chiredzi South by Dendairy Company on 6 000 hectares, as the local farmers will become out-growers, and only a few families will have to move within the area to allow infrastructure development.