On June 18, 2020, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) visited Chilonga in Chikombedzi under Chiredzi East Constituency, where approximately 1000 villagers are facing potential eviction to pave way for a Lucern grass project.
Dendairy, a private milk producing company is said to have been given the green light to occupy 10 000 hectares of arable land for the grass farming project on the south of Runde River and this has potential effect of dispossessing the Shangani people of their ancestral land they have occupied as far back as before independence. The Shangani people are a minority ethnic group found in South East of Zimbabwe, mainly Chiredzi South and their livelihoods are based on mixed farming.
Upon the verification visit by ZimRights, the local leaders said that the community was not willing to vacate the area and they will do everything and anything possible in their power to stop the forced evictions. Sad to note is the fact that the community has never been consulted on the impending move and they keeps on guessing on their next move. A flash visit by a high powered delegation led by the Vice President, Constantino Chiwenga on the 3rd of June 2020 further proved that evictions were imminent.
Chilonga community is worried about the history of evictions in Zimbabwe. In 2014, thousands of villagers were dumped at the semi-arid Chingwizi area of Mwenezi East with no basic amenities after the Tugwi-Mukosi dam banks subdued to floods. Few kilometres from Chiredzi East a total of 115 villagers from Chinyamukwakwa and Matikwa villages in Chisumbanje, Chipinge District were in 2015 displaced with no compensation to pave way for Green Fuel bio-energy project. Up to date no one has been compensated.
ZimRights calls upon the government of Zimbabwe to desist from prioritising white monopoly capital activities at the expense of local communities. Shangani people being a minority group should be protected from forced Internal Displacements as this has the potential of sweeping consequences. Cultural values and historical values should also be considered when effecting such mass based evictions. We implore the government of Zimbabwe to shelve this move and focus on spearheading social, economic and political development especially in marginalised communities such as Chilonga and other surrounding areas.
Report Issued by
Hita J (Mr)
Masvingo Provincial Chairperson