By Sukuoluhle Ndlovu and Kudakwashe Vhenge
The eviction of Chilonga residents of the Shangaani origin from Chiredzi Rural District to pave way for the farming of Lucerne grass for cattle feeding by Dendairy is being strongly condemned and people are in arms fighting for the rights of the Villagers.
Minister of Local Governance, July Moyo said the land had been preserved for the grass farming project. More than 12 000 people of the Shangaan origin will be evicted from their ancestral land as ten hectares of land is needed for the grass production.
MDC Alliance Secretary for Local Government and Rural Development, Sesel Zvidzai in a press release stated that the eviction is unconstitutional.
“The eviction of these persons is arbitrary and unconstitutional as section 71(3) of the Constitution does not allow for the deprivation of property for commercial purposes that are not beneficial to the community. We stand with the people of Chilonga. We condemn the proposed eviction. S.I.50 of 2021 is unconstitutional, invalid and of no force and effect as it violates section sections 71, 74, 51 and 53 of the Constitution,” he said.
Zvidzai called upon the respect of the rights of the people of Chilonga and need for investment models that lead to a shared prosperity and community development.
In an interview with Bustop TV Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) spokesperson, Kumbirai Mafunda said they are filling an urgent application in the courts to contest the eviction of the Chilonga people.
“Our lawyers are working on filing an application in court to stop the eviction of the Chilonga villagers. We are worried and concerned about the pending eviction of these villagers from their ancestral land and will do all we can to stop this eviction,” Mafunda said.
A press statement released by MDC – Alliance youth assembly spokesperson Stephen Chuma said that the eviction of the villagers is a clear indication of capitalistic interests.
“….July Moyo is evicting Chilonga residents from their ancestral land for years to pursue crude capitalistic interests. This latest new low by the regime simply shows that Mnangagwa cares more for grass than the people he purports to represent or lead.
“For a person who claims to be a veteran of the liberation struggle, he must always remember that the liberation legacy was about addressing the land question,” he said.
He also highlighted that rural areas need to be preserved as doyen of cultural heritage and the sentimental value of land goes beyond its economic value as there is traditional significance attached to it.
A visit by Bustop TV to the Chiredzi rural district last year indicated that the Shangaan people are a culturally conservative people hence evicting them from their traditional land is akin to uprooting their cultural roots and economically stripping them naked.
Eviction of the Chilonga people will be a clear indication that the marginalized and minority groups are still being patronized at the expense of capitalistic interests.