Harare- Opposition MDC Alliance has castigated the latest eviction of villagers by the Government from Chilonga in Chiredzi to pave way for a ten thousand hectare Lucerne grass project by a local company.
In a statement, MDC Alliance Secretary for local government and rural development, Sesel Zvidzai said the country’s supreme law does not allow the withdrawal of property for commercial purposes.
“At least 12,500 villagers in Chilonga, Chiredzi face imminent eviction from their ancestral land to facilitate a ten thousand hectare Lucerne grass project by Dendairy (Pvt) Ltd. 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. The livelihoods, cultural practices, dignity, land rights and indigenous knowledge systems stand to be irreparably harmed,” said Zvidzai
Zvidzai said the move was similar to the 2014 Tokwe-Mukosi dam project that left more than 15 000 people homeless after being evacuated from their homes.
“This is not the first time that Government has arbitrarily evicted villagers without compensation or the provision of suitable alternative shelter and livelihoods. For example, families that were forcibly displaced over a decade ago to make way for the Tokwe-Mukosi dam are currently living in squalor at Chingwizi without necessary settlement infrastructure such as schools, clean water, clinics, dip tanks or proper shelter.
“It has been a decade since the Government displaced the people of Chingwizi. They are living under uninhabitable conditions with no sustainable livelihoods. This callous approach to people’s land rights and cultural heritage should never be repeated.
“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. This model of rural development is anti-poor and inhumane. It should be rejected and resisted. The authorities should be sensitive to the needs of the poor and implement policies that put the people first.”
He added “We call for investment models that lead to shared prosperity and community development. We demand that the rights to dignity, to property and the freedom from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment as well as freedom from arbitrary eviction of the Chilonga people be respected unreservedly.”