Villagers threaten Green Fuel with legal action

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HUNDREDS of Chisumbanje villagers whose farmland was allegedly annexed by ethanol producer Green Fuel six years ago have threatened legal action against the firm over delays in resolving the land dispute.

BY OBEY MANAYITI

In a statement yesterday, Platform for Youth Development (PYD), which has been fighting on behalf of the villagers, said they had resolved to take the legal route after the Billy Rautenbach-owned firm appeared reluctant to end the dispute.

Some of the villagers were demanding compensation for their seized land while others wanted their land back. Green Fuel, on the other hand, has accused the villagers of encroaching into its farm, which it was leasing from State farming enterprise Arda.

In September 2012, government set up an inter-ministerial team headed by then Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara to intervene and resolve the stand-off after the villagers accused the firm of poisoning their water sources in a bid to drive them away from its plant. Mutambara’s team eventually left government before resolving the dispute.

Since then several villagers have been arrested and charged with trespassing into the disputed land.

“Villagers in the Chisumbanje and Chinyamukwakwa areas are convinced that only the legal process will resolve the boundary conflict between them and Green Fuel,” PYD said.

“At a recent public meeting held in Chinyamukwakwa on the 10th of April 2015, villagers unanimously agreed that the courts should now be involved in resolving this six-year-old violent dispute that has been punctuated by violent clashes between communal land owners and the local police at Chisumbanje station.”

The youth lobby group said it was working closely with the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to ensure that villagers in Chisumbanje and Chinyamukwakwa are accorded their rights to land or receive fair compensation.