Full statement by the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) on local government minister July Moyo’s notice ordering Chilonga villagers to move out of their ancestral land.
Exactly a year ago, the govt announced that it had engaged a private investor to grow Lucerne grass in Chiredzi. Govt stated that among other benefits of the project, the local community was to benefit from a 6000-hectare piece of land.
July Moyo, acting as Lands minister said the development would boost livestock production in the Lowveld and earn the country foreign currency. “…we want to look at how we are going to engage the local community so that we see how we can work together”.
The MD of Dendairy also said they were looking forward to expanding the project, ‘which will directly benefit the local community.’
At that time, nothing was said about evicting the local villagers and farmers from the land to pave way for the project.
A year later, government has gazetted, as has become a worrying trend, a SI 50 of 2021 allowing the relocation of about 12000 people from Chilonga to pave way for the Lucerne grass project.
Worryingly, government – which has clearly reneged from its promise that the project would benefit local farmers and boost their livestock production – has issued the eviction order without offering the victims alternative shelter and sources of livelihood.
ZPP calls on govt to immediately suspend SI 50 of 2021. It is evil and deserves to be suspended. No government that cares about its citizens would subject them to such treatment.
Any investment that affects the livelihoods of people defeats the purpose, or rather becomes just another feeding trough for the elite, at the expense of the poor villagers who use natural resources to sustain themselves.
It is clear that Zimbabwe has huge tracts of underutilised land that can be used for such investments such as the Lucerne project and as such, there is no need to target land that is occupied and is being rightfully utilized.
By suspending the Statutory Instrument, government can allow for a constructive conversation on a win-win rural development strategy, taking into account the conflict that arises over the division between communal and commercial land.