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Opposition leader vows to defend Chiredzi villagers

By Garikai Mafirakureva

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Zimbabwe president Innocent Gagu Lutshutsha Ndibali has criticised plans by the government to displace thousands of villagers from Chiredzi to pave way for a lucerne production project.

Ndibali told Sunday Southern Eye that his party was against the dispossession of people without due processes.

“Our land is for Zimbabweans and will never be parcelled to the former colonisers or new colonisers from the East,” he said.

“EFF Zimbabwe will stand guard against those, who want to reverse the gains of the agrarian land reform programme for selfish gains.

“We have for a long time known that Zanu PF sold out the soul and spirit of our people to the highest bidders and today Chiredzi East and South is yet another reminder of this grand betrayal of our people.

“This is not the first time that our people have been displaced without proper planning and due compensation.

“The Tokwe-Mukosi project is a reminder of the government’s blunder.

“EFF Zimbabwe calls upon all stakeholders to convene and engage frankly for an amicable solution to this problem.

“As EFF Zimbabwe, we categorically state that we strongly condemn this gross disregard of our people’s birth right to reside on the land of their forefathers.
“The brutal eviction of our people from the land which they connect with spiritually and physically is not only an attack on their fundamental rights, but also an attack to human dignity.” .

Dendiary, a private milk producer, is said to be eyeing about 10 000 hectares of arable land for a lucerne production project meant for local and international markets.

Lurcene grass, also called alfalfa, is used for making hay or animal fodder.

Chiredzi villagers are resisting the relocations, fearing they might meet the same fate as 3 000 fellow villagers displaced during the expansion of Tugwi-Mukosi Dam and dumped in arid Chingwizi in 2014.

The government has since neglected them and they are now living in squalor.

After enduring hardships at Chingwizi transit camp, the Tugwi-Mukosi flood victims were later allocated one-hectare plots on a portion of Nuanetsi Ranch in the semi-arid Mwenezi.

Part of the ranch is owned by Zimbabwe Bio Energy, a company owned by millionaire businessman Billy Rautenbach who, last year, threatened to kick them out of his property.

In Chisumbanje, several families were moved to pave way for Green Fuels’ ethanol project and some of the displaced villagers are yet to be compensated.

An explosive meeting to discuss the proposal was held at Chiredzi council offices last month but ended in a stalemate with villagers, mainly drawn from Chilonga irrigation scheme, vowing to stay put.

The meeting was attended by Local Government minister July Moyo, Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Ezra Chadzamira, Chiredzi South MP Kalisto Gwanetsa, his Chiredzi East counterpart Denford Masiya as well as community leaders.

Ndibali said his party was shocked to learn that villagers were being forcibly removed from their ancestral land to pave way for a Chinese investor.

“We take this opportunity to promise the people of Chiredzi South that EFF Zimbabwe will be with them in their struggle to remain on their land and promise to have all their grievances addressed before they are moved to a new place if they so wish,” he said.

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