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‘Commercial land deals leave communities in quandary’

Large scale commercial land deals at Nuanetsi Ranch, Chisumbanje and Chiadzwa are mired in corruption and end up impacting on livelihoods of communities.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

A Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) 2013 annual state of corruption report on land management and integrity in Zimbabwe released last week, said
communities in such areas were left landless, without access to water and robbed of their spiritual, cultural and sentimental values.

The report said
communities were forcibly removed from their land to make way for big commercial projects in diamond mining, bio-fuel and ethanol production.

“Most deals in land require links to the government, which is why political elites are intrinsically involved,” reads the TIZ report.

“Whilst loss of land by communities for development is not in itself questionable, it is the secret nature of the process where rural people are not involved in deciding what happens to their livelihoods and mining claims that are riddled with controversy.”

The report said at Nuanetsi Ranch settlers were being denied rights to water, resulting in conflicts, while at Chisumbanje people continued to be displaced by the expanding sugar cane plantations, and at Chiadzwa relocations caused loss of livelihoods.

“The benefits rarely filter through to communities as the profits benefit the investors. Implication of every land deal is loss of access to water by local communities. Emissions from ethanol is killing livestock and destroying the environment and there are inadequate notices before relocation and failure to compensate,” TIZ said.

The report said while it was noble to have investors in bio-fuel, mining and ethanol, what made the land deals corrupt was the secret nature of the land acquisition process, where the rural people were not involved in deciding what happened to their livelihoods. It said the whole nation was in the dark on how the contracts were awarded as well as mining claims.

The Nuanetsi bio-fuels project is said to cover more than 376 995 hectares of land, constituting more than 1% of Zimbabwe’s total land area. The land is owned by Development Trust of Zimbabwe founded by the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo and later controlled by Zanu PF elites.

Chisumbanje Ethanol project was set up in partnership between Arda, Madcom Rating, Green Fuel Investment and Madcom Investment.

Billy Rautenbach, a businessman with close links to Zanu PF, is said to have a presence in both Mwenezi and Chisumbanje land deals.

In Chiadzwa, most of the mining claims are also linked to Zanu PF.

TIZ said it was imperative to review the existing land tenure systems to protect rural farmers from arbitrary loss of land, adding land deals should be open with access to information given to the public.

3 Responses to ‘Commercial land deals leave communities in quandary’

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