Villagers in the Chilonga area in Chiredzi have vowed to resist eviction from their ancestral land after the Government gave their land to a private company for a lucerne grass project.
Cabinet Ministers claim the grass project and irrigation scheme in Chilonga will earn the country US$50 million per annum and potentially feed 5 000 people.
But critics say 12 000 people from the Shangaan ethnic group will lose their land when the project is implemented.
Addressing journalists in Harare on Wednesday, Livison Chikutu, one of the villagers facing eviction, said they would rather die than vacate their land. Said Chikutu:
There is no promise on the compensation, they just want to grab (our land) and run away.
They just want to (take) our land, grab and go forever, then someone comes the next day saying it’s not your land.
They are doing nothing; they are talking a lot of lies saying they did door-to-door consultation, yet we are the settlers and we did not see such a thing.
We can’t let our land be taken in that way, we have seen it before and there was no compensation.
…. So we are saying, it’s better they come and just shoot us so we die at once than for us to be told to leave this land and resettle somewhere else.
The Government invoked the Communal Land Act to evict the Chilonga villagers.
Sections 4 and 6 of the Communal Lands Act vests rural land in the hands of the President.
Meanwhile, the Shangaan people claim they have lived on the targeted lands for more than five hundred years.