Villagers sue GreenFuel to stop seizure of communal land

VILLAGERS in Chipinge, Manicaland province have dragged ethanol producer, GreenFuel to court to stop it from occupying their communal land and interfering with their farming activities.

Represented by Passmore Nyakureba and Blessing Nyamaropa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the villagers together with Platform for Youth Development petitioned the High Court on Monday 10 December 2018 seeking an order restraining GreenFuel from depriving them access to their communal land and stopping the ethanol producer from destroying their crops.

In the urgent chamber application, the villagers argued that GreenFuel unlawfully invaded Magokova communal land in Chisumbanje, Chipinge, Manicaland province intending to expand its sugarcane farming operations.

The land, which they have had use of from the colonial times through inheritance from their parents, the villagers argued, is currently used by 138 families for agricultural purposes, where they grow cotton as their sole cash crop and maize for subsistence purposes.

Their concern came after GreenFuel started barring them from either tilling their fields, tendering their germinated crops and from total access at all.

The villagers argued that GreenFuel had done so without securing a court order barring them access to their fields and neither has the use of land been changed from communal land to commercial land by the responsible authority to the knowledge of the villagers.

In addition, GreenFuel has set armed security guards and dogs to ward off the villagers from accessing their fields in Magokova communal lands, of which farming is the only economic activity sustaining their livelihoods.

GreenFuel’s conduct, the villagers argued violates several of their fundamental rights, specifically the right to agricultural land as guaranteed under section 72 of the Constitution, the right to food as guaranteed under section 77 of the Constitution, the right to property as provided for under section 71 of the Constitution, the right to equal protection of the law as guaranteed under section 56 of the Constitution and above all it is a violation of the founding principles and the national objectives of the people of Zimbabwe entrenched in the Constitution.

The urgent chamber application will be heard and determined by Justice Hlekani Mwayera on Thursday 13 December 2018 at 3:30 PM.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

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