Chiredzi villagers threaten to sue govt

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Tendai Kamhungira
DEPUTY CHIEF WRITER
kamhungirat@dailynews.co.zw

OVER 1 000 Chiredzi villagers facing eviction to pave way for a dairy company to start lucerne grass farming in the Lowveld area, have threatened to take the government to court.

The villagers — through lawyers from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) — have written to Local Government minister July Moyo challenging the planned ejection.

In the letter written a fortnight ago, the villagers in Chilonga communal area demanded to know the government’s position on the alleged bid to evict them.

“We have been instructed to request your office to furnish us with information in your custody and control, which our clients are entitled to in terms of Section 62 of the Constitution within 14 days of your receipt of this letter, which relates to the following: confirmation of whether or not villagers in Chilonga Communal Area will be displaced to pave way for a lucerne production project, government relocation plan for the Chilonga community and issues of compensation in case of displacements, how the government is going to engage the local community over the ancestral land (and) copies of all documents relating to the transaction between the ministry of Local Government and the Lucerne investor,” ZLHR said.

This comes after Dendairy was granted permission to grow lucerne grass on land measuring 6 000 hectares in Chiredzi.

The development will result in the villagers being moved to pave way for the project.
The villagers argued that the project would displace them from their ancestral land and means of livelihood.

“From the instructions we have from our clients, the following obtains: that the government did not consult the Shangani people with regard to the proposed project and they have no information on where they will be relocated to, how the communities are going to benefit from the project and if they are going to be relocated, how are they going to be compensated.

“Our clients are concerned about government-induced relocations, they have witnessed how villagers in Chisumbanje and Tokwe-Mukorsi have been ill-treated by the very government that was supposed to protect them from investors, more so when the land in dispute is communal land,” ZLHR said in the letter.

The villagers said they believed they were being targeted for being a minority group in Zimbabwe in “gross disregard of the indigenous people’s rights”.

“Should we fail to hear from you within the period stated above we shall assume that you have no intention whatsoever to comply with this request and we will be forced to approach the courts to compel you to release the requested information,” ZLHR said.

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