Chilonga villagers petition govt over eviction clarity

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Chilonga villagers

BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA

CHILONGA villagers in Chiredzi have petitioned government seeking further clarity on the proposed irrigation project that will result in the displacement of over 12 000 people from their ancestral land.

High Court judge Justice Joseph Mafusire last month dismissed an application by the villagers in which they were challenging their pending eviction.

Last February, government announced plans to evict the villagers after it passed Statutory Instrument (SI) 50 of 2021 to set aside 12 940 hectares of communal land in the area for a lucerne project by Dendairy.

This left the villagers with no option, but to seek legal recourse.

In a petition dated February 11, addressed to Local Government minister July Moyo, Agriculture minister Anxious Masuka, district development co-ordinator and the Chiredzi Rural District Council, the villagers said the pending eviction had unsettled them.

“There is no certainty or clarity as to which specific area is likely going to be affected by the proposed irrigation scheme. We are reliably informed that a delegation from the Ministry of Local Government had a meeting with one July Guvele, in which the latter was tasked to call a meeting for village heads,” the petition read.

“Guvele is neither a village head nor a chief. We, the petitioners, submit that your office must ensure that proper communication procedures are followed and due notices for any consultations that will be conducted should be given.

“The consultation meetings, which have already been done, have been done in a partisan manner. We are reliably informed that Zanu PF district co-ordinating committee members were invited to these meetings in their capacities as Zanu PF members. There is no basis whatsoever for inviting Zanu PF members in their offices capacities to the meetings,”

In their court application, the Chilonga villagers wanted the High Court to set aside sections 4 and 6(1)(b) of the Communal Lands Act, arguing that the two sections were unconstitutional and violated provisions of the Constitution.

Plans to evict the villagers have sparked an outcry and made global headlines.

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