MDC Alliance Vice President, Tendai Biti has reiterated that the Dendairy Lucerne grass project in Chilonga, Chiredzi was never stopped as others thought.
A Scandinavian Private equity firm Spear Capital owns a 27% stake in Zimbabwe’s Dendairy.
Following the issuance of Statutory Instrument (SI) 72A of 2021 that announced the repealing of SI 50, many thought the government had succumbed to pressure from stakeholders and was now stopping the project.
Statutory Instrument 50 of 2021 had legalized the eviction of Chilonga people from their ancestral lands in Chiredzi. Commenting following the repealing of SI 50, Biti said the development was inconsequential since “land was taken away in terms of SI 51 of 2021. That has not been repealed. So nothing has changed.”
Posting on Twitter this Friday, the Harare-based lawyer reiterated that the government never stopped the project. He said:
The project was not stopped. SI 51 of 2021 has not been repealed. Right now the Hlengwe Shangani community is being brutalized with Masvingo Provincial Minister Ezra Chadzamira on rampage.
Some stakeholders opposed the planned eviction of Chilonga people saying it was a violation of both domestic and international human rights laws hence the need for the project to be stopped.
Chilonga residents who were resisting the move said they were aware that they will never be compensated as the case was with victims of Tugwi-Mukorsi floods, and Chidzwa people.
A number of Chilonga local leaders appeared on ZBCTV, the state broadcaster refuting claims that residents were opposed to the evictions saying there were some elements misinforming people to create confusion.
Their remarks suggested that the project was ongoing as initially planned.
In the past two years, Dendairy has invested as much as $10m into its operations and the new partnership with Spear Capital will put it on a growth path to tap further into the local market.
South Africa imports pose threat
However dairy imports, mainly from South African producers, still account for a significant amount of dairy products consumed inside the country. This has forced lobby groups in Zimbabwe and the government to push through an initiative promoting the buying and consumption of local dairy products.
Vandudzai Zirebwa, an economist with the Buy Zimbabwe pressure group says dairy industry imports are affecting the agriculture sector, leading to loss of employment.
According to Zirebwa, Zimbabwe spent $9m on imports of milk and milk-related products.
She added that imports also lead to loss of revenue for the economy, while investment into the sector would also be low. Imported dairy products in Zimbabwe are dominated by brands from Parmalat and other products from the Limpopo region in South Africa.