Calls for suspension of Chilonga evictions intensifies, lawyers files court application

By Sukuoluhle Ndlovu

The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) is calling upon the government to immediately suspend Statutory Instrument 50 of 2021 which will lead to the eviction of the Chilonga people from their ancestral land.

A statement released by ZPP director and human rights defender Jestina Mukoko on the planned eviction of the Chilonga villagers noted that if the government cares for its citizens, the evictions should be suspended.

“SI 50 of 2021 is evil and deserves to be suspended. No government that cares about its citizens would subject them to such treatment. This is because any investment that affects the livelihoods of people defeats the purpose or rather becomes just another feeding trough for the elite, at the expense of the poor villagers who use natural resources to sustain themselves. It is clear that Zimbabwe has huge tracts of under utilized land which can be used for investments such as the Lucerne project and as such, there is no need to target land that is occupied and is being utilised,” ZPP noted. 

The government has also been urged to foster rural development by suspending the Statutory Instrument,

“Government can allow for a constructive conversation on a win –win rural development strategy taking into account the conflict that arises over the division between communal and commercial land. The Suspension of SI 50 of 2021 will foster inclusive rural development, where communities can take ownership of any developments that happen on their land,” ZPP said. 

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Law Association (ZELA) yesterday filled 2 applications at the Masvingo High Court challenging the government’s decision to move Chilonga villagers from their ancestral land to pave way for the Dendairy grass project. 

The court papers show that the applicants are Masvingo Center For Research Advocacy and Community Development Trust (MACRAD Trust) and Livson Chikutu Chilonga village heads chairperson

The respondents are Minister of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development, Chiredzi Rural District Council, Minister  of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement as well as Minister For Provincial Affairs Masvingo.

There has been some unverified reports that President Mnangagwa owns part of Dendairy and that there could be diamond deposits in the area.