Environmental Rights Group Demands More Govt Clarity On Chilonga

Spread This News

By Staff Reporter

CIVIL society group, the Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) wants government to repeal Statutory Instrument (SI) 50/2021 as this is the only way villagers in Chiredzi’s Chilonga community can be assured of security of their ancestral land.

CNRG is one of the groups that have led resistance against government plans to evict over 12 000 villagers from their land. It went on to challenge the controversial policy stance in court.

Following the amount of resistance elicited by the decision, government went on to gazette Statutory Instrument 72A while repealing SI 50/2021.

However, government maintained SI 51 which excised 12 940 hectares from Chiredzi Communal Lands.

Government has since cunningly repelled both SI 50/2021 – which stated the reason of villagers’ displacement was the need to establish a dairy project – and replaced it with SI 51/2021 which states that the land would be set aside for an irrigation project.

The latter is not affected by the repulsion of the former, effectively implying that the threat of eviction still remains.

CNRG now wants government to also pronounce itself in terms of SI 51/2021, which leaves a cloud of uncertainty on the future of the Shangani people on their land.

The group also urged parliament to repeal the Communal Lands Act and introduce a land law that gives Zimbabweans on communal lands security of tenure.

Government was also called to respect the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of local communities in line with the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and for Dendairy (Pvt) Ltd to publicly renounce its interest in acquiring Chilonga Communal Lands.

“The repealing of SI 50, in as much as it provides relief to the affected villagers, it does not extinguish the threat or uncertainty lingering above the Shangani community because the land remains excised from Chiredzi Communal Land,” CNRG said in a statement.

“For the people of Chilonga, their right to that land remains taken away.

“The land was grabbed through SI 51 and there is no declaration what that land is for now.

“The uncertainty created by this remaining Statutory Instrument infringes the right to agricultural land and property rights of the occupiers of the land.

“The fact that the excised land is no-longer theirs means that effectively, they are squatters and can be evicted anytime. Who knows, maybe someone is having title to the land being processed,” said Maguwu.

According to CNRG, SI 50 set aside 12 940 hectares for the purposes of Lucerne grass farming and was later amended through SI 63A to indicate that land has been set aside for irrigation purposes and was no longer under the jurisdiction of Chiredzi Rural District Council, which adds to the confusion.

In SI 51/2021, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, through Section 6 (1)(b) of the Communal Lands Act, cut out the same hectares effectively rendering it not part of Chiredzi Communal Land anymore.