Over 1000 Shangaani families to face eviction after gvt approval

By Kudakwashe Vhenge

The government has gazetted Statutory Instrument 50 of 2021 which approves the eviction of over 1 000 families from the Sengwe Communal lands in Chiredzi  paving way for the multi-million dollar lucern grass project by Kwekwe based Dendairy.

The SI titled Statutory Instrument 50 of 2021 Communal Land (Setting Aside of Land) (Chiredzi) Notice was issued by the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development in terms of the Communal Land Act [Chapter 20: 04].

Sengwe communal land is largely occupied by people of the Shangaani origin who have been subjected to a nomadic lifestyle after being moved from the surrounding estates, conservancies and plantations.

Once a dry ecology region and tsetse flies infested land, Sengwe Communal lands located South East of Zimbabwe in Chiredzi East Constituency and some eighty kilometers South West of the Sugarcane town of Chiredzi had been turned productive. 

The Shangaani people had gradually made the land productive with small grain farming which sustains their livelihoods.

Hundreds of families were on contract farming with the country’s major beer breweries, Ingwebu and Chibuku breweries being provided with sorghum, millet and rapoko.

A visit by Bustop TV news crew to the low-veld region on a fact-finding mission barely a year ago after news of the evictions began to circulate established that the Shangaan people had heard through the grapevine that about 1 200 hectares of their land is to be taken from them.

At the time there was no formal engagement from any government authorities as well as officials from the Dendairy company which is said to have identified the land as ideal for farming lucerne grass for dairy cows with regards to compensation.

The general sentiment by villagers who spoke to this news crew was that they wish to stay on the land so they do not have to be constantly moved like nomads.

However, the Statutory instrument which was issued yesterday by the local government Minister Honorable July Moyo stated that inhabitants of the land “vacate the land permanently with all of his or her property from the said land by the date of publication of this notice”.

“Communal Land (Setting Aside of Land) (Chiredzi) Notice, 2021 THE Minister of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development and in terms of section 10 of the Communal Land Act [Chapter 20:041. hereby makes the following notice:-

  1. This notice may be cited as the Communal Land (Setting Aside of Land) (Chiredzi) Notice, 2021.
  2. The area of land described hereunder in terms of the Schedule shall be set aside with effect from the date of publication of this notice for the purpose of lurcene production.
  3. Any person occupying or using the land specified in the Schedule, otherwise than by virtue of a right held in terms of the Mines and Minerals Act [Chapter 21:051, is ordered to depart permanently with all of his or her property from the said land by the date of publication of this notice, unless he or she acquires rights of use or occupation to the said land in terms of section (9)(1) of the Communal Land Act [Chapter 20:041.”, reads the Statutory Instrument.