By Robert Tapfumaneyi
THOUSANDS of families in Chiredzi district in Masvingo province are outraged with government and a Chinese investor who has earmarked their ancestral land to farm Lurcene grass for export.
Lurcene grass is for making hay.
In an interview, a councillor representing the villagers said the Asian investor has offered each of the affected families some new pieces of arid land to also farm grass and sell back to them.
Local Government Minister July Moyo, during a recent visit to the area accompanied by Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Ezra Chadzamira, told the affected villagers the area had been earmarked for such a project since 1964.
“They came and told us that we will be moved and be compensated by the investor for structures that would have been destroyed and each affected villager will also be given two hectares of land to plough the same grass,” Councillor Hardlife Tiisa told NewZimbabwe.com.
“The most affected villagers are those in Ward 6, 7 and 8 and their fear is what happened to some villagers who were displaced for Tokwe-Mukosi dam project who did not receive any compensation.
“We are not against any government projects in the area, but we are afraid of what will happen to our livelihoods.
“Moreover, imagine planting, harvesting grass and selling to the same person who would have displaced you; at how much?”
“Interestingly, they told us that the land was gazetted for such a project in 1964.”
Tiisa said villagers would rather be contracted to plant the grass without being moved from the same area.
“Land reform is not about taking land from once landless villagers and giving it to one company.
“Why not just sell the idea to villagers just like what happened with tobacco,” he said.
For some of the villagers, this will be the second time having been affected by the construction of Tokwe-Mukosi dam in the same province and they had settled in Chiredzi South after being dumped in Chingwizi 5 years ago.