Villagers in Chilonga, Chiredzi District, have petitioned the Government to seek further clarity on the area that will be covered by the proposed irrigation project.
Vast tracks of land in Chiredzi will be put under lucerne grass resulting in the displacement of over 12 000 people from communal land.
In January this year, the villagers made an application at the High Court challenging their pending eviction which was dismissed by Justice Joseph Mafusire.
They wanted the High Court to set aside sections 4 and 6(1)(b) of the Communal Lands Act, arguing that the two sections were unconstitutional.
The villagers subsequently wrote to Local Government minister July Moyo, Agriculture minister Anxious Masuka, district development coordinator and the Chiredzi Rural District Council, seeking clarity over the matter. The petition, dated 11 February reads in part:
There is no certainty or clarity as to which specific area is likely going to be affected by the proposed irrigation scheme.
We are reliably informed that a delegation from the Ministry of Local Government had a meeting with one July Guvele, in which the latter was tasked to call a meeting for village heads.
Guvele is neither a village head nor a chief. We, the petitioners, submit that your office must ensure that proper communication procedures are followed and due notices for any consultations that will be conducted should be given.
The consultation meetings, which have already been done, have been done in a partisan manner.
We are reliably informed that ZANU PF district coordinating committee members were invited to these meetings in their capacities as ZANU PF members.
There is no basis whatsoever for inviting ZANU PF members in their offices’ capacities to the meetings.
In February 2021 the Government revealed plans to displace the villagers from their ancestral land after it passed Statutory Instrument (SI) 50 of 2021.
The regulations set aside 12 940 hectares of communal land in the area for a lucerne project by Dendairy, leaving the villagers unsettled.