Eight Shangaan community leaders in Chiredzi East were recently summoned to the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) office in the Lowveld and interrogated for allegedly inciting villagers to resist government plans to relocate them to another site to pave way for a multi-million-dollar lucerne production project.
The eight – Dhlayani Chiandlala, John Petro, Itai Machuukele, Ganyani Chigombe, Graesham Marilele, Bernard Vhekenya, Funny Macholoti and John Gezani – were allegedly interrogated by CIO operative Joseph Chiminya, who accused them of organising villagers to heckle government and party leaders spearheading the relocation exercise.
Masvingo Centre for Research, Advocacy and Development (MACRAD) director Ephraim Mtombeni confirmed the development, describing it as harassment.
Chiminya could not be reached for comment.
“The Shangaan people feel that they are being discriminated against on tribal lines as this is a second eviction. First, they were evicted in the Triangle area to pave way for Tongaat Hulett. The government did not consult the Shangaan people, but just came with Paul Kruger as an investor,” Mtombeni said.
“On July 04, 2020 the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Perrance Shiri, Minister of Local Government July Moyo and Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Ezra Chadzamira visited the Chilonga communities instructing them to leave their ancestral land,” he said.
“MACRAD recommends the government should properly give notice of the proposed acquisition of land by making a publication in the Government Gazette identifying the land in terms of section 72(2) of the Constitution. The Shangaan people have to participate in the decision-making process not as affected people, but as primary actors who contribute to socioeconomic value of the lucerne project.”
According to minutes of a special Chiredzi Rural District Council meeting held on April 30, the project would be spread over 6 500 hectares and displace villagers in Chambuta, Chipinda, Velemu, Chibwedziva and Masivamele in Chikombedzi.
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) chairperson Elasto Mugwadi and his team recently visited the affected communities.
Zanu-PF provincial spokesperson Ronald Ndava refused to comment saying: “I cannot comment right now because the issue is still being discussed so that the parties can reach a consensus. It’s unfortunate that there are some elements who want to blow it out of proportion. Just let those involved solve the issue amicably.”