Vice President Constantino Chiwenga was reportedly forced to reschedule a meeting with Chilonga villagers after it had appeared that the villagers were angry with the government’s intention to remove them from their ancestral lands.
The intended relocation is meant to pave way for irrigation projects which the state claim will be of great benefit to the local people.
Chiwenga was scheduled to have a meeting with the concerned people in Chilonga but ended meeting headmen and chiefs at a closed-door meeting at Gibbo Stadium in Triangle, several kilometres away from Chilonga.
The Independent reports that the villagers had met Masvingo’s minister of state and Provincial Affairs, Ezra Chadzamira and demanded offer letters if they are indeed beneficiaries of the projects as the government claims. A source told the Zimbabwe Independent this week:
They, however, met resistance and immediately rescheduled Chiwenga’s visit for last Sunday at Gibbo Stadium in Triangle. Only traditional leaders were invited to the meeting.
A representative of Chilonga village head Vhelemu Livison Chikutu said traditional leaders reportedly turned down verbal promises. Chikutu told Chadzamira during a meeting which was a precursor to Chiwenga’s visit:
If you are saying we are no longer going to be moved and we are going to be beneficiaries of the grass project, then we want offer letters. You are not going to be our minister of state forever. You might be fired or you may die tomorrow and your successor will simply ask for the agreement we had with the government not with Chadzamira as a person.
As villagers of Chilonga, we are worried that you are misleading the nation that there were proper consultations. We are totally opposed to the government decision to forcibly move us from our land. We are also worried that you are using Chief Tshovani as the leader whose area of jurisdiction is affected yet it belongs to Chief Sengwe who is not here. We feel you are trying to mislead the world that our traditional leader is in support with whatever is happening.
The Chilonga contentious issue was not discussed in-depth as the traditional leaders asked for more time to consult their people.