By Staff Reporter
GREEN FUEL security guards armed with guns and dogs Thursday morning moved in to provide security as the company destroyed crops and structures owned by over 1 000 households in Chinyamukwakwa village, Chipinge.
The destruction is meant to pave way for the controversial ethanol producing company as it prepares land for its expansion and is encroaching surrounding fields owned by local villagers.
Green Fuel is co-owned by controversial business tycoon Billy Rautenbach who is a close business ally of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Another shareholder is the state-owned Agricultural Rural Development Authority (ARDA).
Last month, Green Fuel also ordered villagers to vacate their fields, which the families have been farming for decades, to make way for the company’s expansion.
The villagers then begged the company to be given a grace period of two months to allow them to harvest their crops with the end of August being the deadline.
The villagers had planted various cash crops including maize, and cotton which were almost ready for harvesting, but were destroyed by Green Fuel.
The expansion is mostly affecting villagers in the Chinyamukwakwa area, which is under Chipinge’s Ward 28.
The aggrieved villagers also last month sought the help of Platform for Youth Development (PYD), and lawyer, Lovemore Madhuku.
However, the villagers told NewZimbabwe.com Thursday that they were shocked when they saw in the morning, Green Fuel’s tractors driving to their fields, with security guards armed with guns and dogs for protection and destroyed crops which were at various stages.
PYD founder Claris Madhuku also told NewZimbabwe.com the entire community was shocked by the shameful destruction of crops by Green Fuel.
“I’m actually shocked that this is happening. We engaged the services of a lawyer to negotiate with the company on our behalf and give us a grace period of two months to harvest our crops,” he said.
“However, we were surprised on Thursday morning to see Green Fuel’s armed security guards with dogs moving around the village. The company’s tractors have since destroyed crops that were ready for harvesting.”
One of the affected farmers Tapiwa Hapagutwi who had his maize and cotton crops destroyed.
“This was my only source of income, and I couldn’t believe that in this day and age, I would witness something as outrageous as this happening. At first, I thought it was a joke. I am devasted,” he told NewZimbabwe.com.
Hapagutwi was expecting to harvest over five tonnes of cotton and a similar tonnage of maize.
Another villager, Memory Sithole said; “We are rushing to harvest our crops before the company reaches our fields. However, I do not think, we will manage as we will need over a month the complete the task.”
Contacted for comment the villagers’ lawyer, Lovemore Madhuku confirmed he had been informed of the devastation done in Chipinge and he would file a lawsuit against the company.
“We are going to file a lawsuit against Green Fuel. We will demand that they compensate the affected families. I am shocked the company disregarded the two-month grace period,” he said.
Repeated efforts to get a comment from Green Fuel through one of the senior officials, Nicole Rautenbach, were unsuccessful.