The Zanu PF-led government has doubled down on its plans to push Chilonga villagers in Chiredzi out of their communal land holdings to pay the way for a lucerne production project by Dendairy, a company based in Kwekwe.
Instead of using the contentious Statutory Instrument 50 of 2021 which ordered the villagers to vacate their ancestral land for Dendairy, the government will use a “refashioned statutory instrument”.
This was revealed by George Charamba, the Deputy Chief Secretary-Presidential Communications in the Office of the President via Twitter posts on Monday. He wrote:
Lucerne growing is a small part of the development plan of the affected area. The plan is far-flung and involves irrigation of over 200 000 hectares under thousands of centre pivots, all for crop, fruit and beef production.
Those wishing to diss (dismiss) the project do so by presenting it as a one-item affair, which it isn’t.
They also predicate it on the coming in of an outsider as a fodder grower forgetting the bulk of the plan is State-involved and funded or the development of community and country!
Anyway, there will be complete communication from government, both by a comprehensive statement and a refashioned statutory instrument.
However, MDC Alliance vice-president Tendai Biti yesterday told NewsDay that the government cannot amend an SI but the correct thing is to repeal it. Biti said:
There is nothing like a refashioned statutory instrument. They simply have to repeal SI 50 of 2021, which took away land ownership rights of the Chilonga people. They cannot amend a statutory instrument.
SI 50 of 2021 was promulgated by Government on 26 February 2021. It read:
Communal Land (Excision of Land) (Notice, 2021): His Excellency, the President, in terms of section 6(1)(b) of the Communal Land Act [Chapter 20:04], hereby makes the following notice:— 1. This notice may be cited as the Communal Land (Excision of Land) Notice, 2021. 2. The area of land described hereunder in terms of the schedule shall cease to be part of the Chiredzi Communal Land.