The government is reportedly planning to dethrone Chief Sengwe in Southeast Lowveld and elevate headman Chilonga to be chief after the former refused to support the eviction of his people to pave way for a grass farming project.
This comes after the government last year ordered the Chilonga community (Chilonga/Masivamele) to leave the land so that a local dairy firm uses it for growing lucerne grass.
The community resisted eviction and won a court interdict that barred the government from arbitrary eviction of the estimated 12 000 families.
Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG) director Farai Maguwu said Chief Sengwe is being targeted for siding with villagers. Said Maguwu:
From the meeting held on Friday, August 5, 2022, at a place in Triangle, the government is reportedly planning to elevate headman Chilonga to be a chief in the land of Chief Sengwe.
Chief Sengwe has been siding with the community against the government’s takeover of their land.
Last year as CNRG we sent a legal team to gather facts and requested the court to stop the evictions which the courts ruled in favour of the people of the Chilonga and Masivamele communities.
Village head Ganyani Chigombe in Chilonga said they will resist the eviction. He said:
We still don’t want the takeover by the government and this is our ancestral land since 100 years ago. This is where our ancestors’ graves are so we are not going anywhere.
We are aware that the government wants to share part of Chief Sengwe’s land with headman Chilonga who has been siding with it, in fact, it wants Headman Chilonga to become a chief.
On August 5, 2022, the government held a meeting at Triangle Country Club and only communities siding with the government attended the meeting as the government is trying to convince the people to vacate the land.