The statement below was posted on Facebook on 5 March 2021 at 17:21hrs by George Charamba, the Deputy Chief Secretary-Presidential Communications in the Office of the President.
MORE ON CHILONGA IRRIGATION PROJECT: George Charamba
This morning I attended a high-level meeting on Chilonga Irrigation Project following the hue and cry on this terribly misunderstood and much-maligned COMMUNITY IRRIGATION PROJECT which is one of several planned by Government this year on COMMUNAL LAND.
What it provides for is REORGANIZATION and RE-PLANNING of communal human settlements to allow for IRRIGATED LAND USE!!
This is central to understanding what is set to happen in all the projects itemized above. And REORGANIZATION and/or RE-PLANNING is not the same as EVICTION or DISPLACEMENT which, quite apart from not being provided for under the relevant law, IS NOT in accord with GOVERNMENT POLICY.
Apart from sugar cane growing, CHIREDZI does livestock mainly. The planned massive COMMUNAL IRRIGATION PROGRAMME for CHIREDZI, which augments the already revived and thriving CHILONGA IRRIGATION PROJECT, is founded on the twin objective of INTRODUCING IRRIGATED CROPPING PROGRAMME which is CLIMATE-PROOFED; and TRANSFORMING LIVESTOCK FARMING all-round.
Both objectives entail REORGANIZATION and RE-PLANNING of affected areas to ensure blocks are arranged for CROPPING, LIVESTOCK, FEEDSTOCK-GROWING and HUMAN SETTLEMENT.
Facts on the ground show very few households stand to be affected by this new thrust, huge swathes of which land falls within UN-UTILIZED zones.
The few households which may be affected only get so affected in the sense of being RE-SITED as already indicated, all at GOVERNMENT EXPENSE and for improved RURAL HOUSING.
The Lucerne Project about which there has been so much noise supports the NEW, EXPANDED LAND USE BY AND FOR THOSE COMMUNAL RESIDENTS.
Should the Programme generate excess FODDER, or decide to embark on COMMERCIAL LUCERNE PRODUCTION as an OUTGROWERS INITIATIVE, those options NEED NOT UNDERMINE TITLE or SECURITY OF TENURE for our COMMUNAL LAND CITIZENS.
The above is the POLICY POSITION WHICH THE PRESIDENT HAS DIRECTED. Different teams and disciplines have been directed to look at all PLANS and INSTRUMENTS – the relevant Statutory Instrument included – to determine compliance with, and fulfilment of, this iron-clad POLICY POSITION.
Should any aspect be seen not to cohere with that strict policy position, the aspect concerned WILL BE CHANGED or, if of a legal nature, AMENDED, to fall in with both POLICY and PRIMARY STATUTE.
For the avoidance of doubt, the relevant act does not allow DESIGNATION of COMMUNAL LAND for purposes of GROWING A SPECIFIC CROP/GRASS!
I hope this clarifies the position and allays fears while creating a sound climate for the execution of this much-needed Programme covering at least three provinces for a start, and likely to be rolled out in all drylands including those in Mashonaland East.