Community leaders in Chilonga who are at the forefront of resisting the government’s decision to evict them from their land to pave way for the production of lucerne grass by Dendairy (Pvt) Ltd, have alleged harassment by suspected state security agents.
The villagers are now living in fear as the suspected state agents visit their homes and send them threatening messages on a daily basis.
Fearing for their lives and the safety of their families, the community leaders have since gone into hiding to dodge the unwelcome visitations.
One community leader who claimed to be speaking from a hiding place over the phone told The Standard:
We are getting threatening calls, they are saying we are doing politics and accuse us of being members of the opposition parties.
But ours is not a political cause, we believe it is a just cause.
They are playing the divide-and-rule tactic and as I am speaking, I am in hiding in the jungle.
Another villager who spoke to the publication said they will use all legal channels available to resist the evictions.
We have been evicted before. Why can’t they evict others this time around? Is it because we come from the minority Shangaan tribe? We will continue to fight for our land through constitutional means.
Government last week gazetted a legal instrument — statutory instrument (S1 50 of 2021 Communal Land Setting aside of Land (Chiredzi, notice 2021)) — paving the way for the eviction of more than 12 000 villagers.
The villagers are being forced to make way for Neville Coetzee, a white farmer with links to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, to embark on his cow grass project.