Headman Forichi Chisumbanje a Hero of Land Rights and Social Justice in Chipinge

Headman Forichi Chisumbanje passed away on 17th of September 2019 after a short illness, and was buried on Friday the 20th of September 2019 in Chisumbanje. The death of Headman Chisumbanje is a heavy blow to the land rights and social justice movement in Chipinge District, as he was a vital cog in the land rights and social justice advocacy. Mourners who attended and spoke at the funeral of headman Chisumbanje unanimously agreed that the late headman was an irreplaceable character who gave the community direction in the land dispute between the community and Greenfuel Pvt Ltd. His passing on created a sombre atmosphere in Chisumbanje, since it was an emotional moment for land rights and social justice activists in the area.

His counterpart within the land struggle, Headman Phineas Chinyamukwakwa admitted that the land struggle for justice and beneficiation will be poorer in the community without the personality of headman Chisumbanje. He was the spirit behind the community resistance to arbitrary communal land take over without respecting traditional leadership as well as local customs.

His value was echoed by village head, Leonard Uchaka Muyondozi who described the headman as a rare breed of traditional leaders of our time. Headman Chisumbanje practiced effective delegation in terms of serving leadership tasks, an approach which made him to be revered and respected by both the young and elderly in the village.

“We have lost a firm and consistent leader who believed in a stakeholder approach in achieving community beneficiation within the framework of the land dispute.” Village Head Muyondozi told mourners.

The burial was attended by members of the Christian community, business community and various community stakeholders. People of different walks of life who attended the burial also appreciated the role played by a local community based organisation, Platform for Youth and Community Development (PYCD) for leadership on the land dispute as well as taking an active role in laying to rest headman Chisumbanje. The local community based organisation PYCD had to postpone its activities that were lined up for the weekend of 20th – 22nd of September 2019 in order to accord a decent and dignified send off to one of the community key stakeholder in land rights and social justice.

“We had to postpone all our weekend activities to pay our last respect to Headman Forichi Chisumbanje who was a pillar of strength to PYCD’s advocacy work since 2009.” PYCD Director, Mr Claris Madhuku said.

The ongoing land dispute in Chisumbanje and Chinyamukwakwa involving the community on one side and Green Fuel Pvt Ltd, Chipinge Rural District Council and ARDA on the other hand has taken many dimensions that include confrontation, dialogue and legal processes. PYCD has been mandated by the community stakeholders to continue with the advocacy work on the land dispute to ensure that villagers are not inconvenienced by the Green fuel investment so that proper and adequate compensation is attained by the villagers. This can only be achieved through just and equitable land investment policy framework that addresses community beneficiation adequately. This is possible through the empowerment of a stakeholder dialogue platform where issues that affect the villagers and the Green fuel project stakeholders, are discussed and addressed for actioning.

Source: Platform for Youth and Community Development (PYCD)