MPs Confront Govt Over Chiredzi Evictions

OPPOSITION MPs Wednesday demanded answers from leader of the house Ziyambi Ziyambi over government moves to evict some 12 000 families from their ancestral land in Chiredzi to pave way for a grass project by some white businessmen linked to the ruling elite.

Led by MDC Alliance MP for Harare East, Tendai Biti, the lawmakers wanted to know which government policy gave rights to Local Government minister July Moyo to seize the villagers’ land.

Some 12 500 families of the Xhangaan (Shangaan) communities of Chilonga in Chiredzi, Masvingo are about to be relocated to pave way for a Dendairy lucern grass project.

The controversial business venture is expected to cover more than 10 000 hectares of the arable land occupied by the villagers.

Biti told deputy speaker Tsitsi Gezi that chances were high the villagers would be dumped in no man’s land without any compensation just like what happened to some 3 000 Chivi families which were dumped in Chingwizi in 2014 for the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam construction.

Said the aggressive MP, “What land policy has been used to take communal land and giving it to white farmers.

“The land is covered by Communal Lands Act. 41 years after independence, we are still evicting communal people from their ancestral land!

Kusanyara kwacho kwakaoma (please be ashamed of your deeds. You have no guts at all). Are we reversing the land reform programme?”

Harare North MP, Rusty Markham also shared the same sentiments over the matter.

“Who is going to resettle those people. Cyclone Idai victims are yet to be resettled.

“We want a comprehensive statement that clearly explains how this mass movement of so many people will be handled considering implications in the land reform policy to cover this,” Markham said.

Norton legislator Temba Mliswa weighed in.

“These are not illegal settlers. You cannot evict over 50 000 people just for one man. Why can you (government officials) not give them your farms.

“Most of you own more than one farm yet the policy on farming land says, ‘one man one farm’. You (Ziyambi Ziyambi) have been captured by July Moyo. You are corrupt and getting kickbacks),” said Mliswa.

Ziyambi urged the MPs to get educated on the land policy.

“Honourable Mliswa, you are offside. People have been moved since time immemorial,” he said.

The justice minister also reminded Biti that the gazetting of communal lands was vested in the President.

“When projects are of national interest, the President can cause that Gazette. People will be relocated somewhere,” Ziyambi said.

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

Through statutory instrument 50 of 2021 (Communal Land Setting aside of Land (Chiredzi, notice 2021), published in the Government Gazette on Friday, Local Government minister July Moyo said the land had been reserved for the grass farming project.