Masvingo Centre for Research, Advocacy and Development (MACRAD) members in Chiredzi Rural District in Chilonga, Chibwedziva Ward 8 were summoned to report to Chiredzi intelligence offices today. This was followed by the arrest of MACRAD director Epraim Mutombeni who was later released on bail after being remanded in prison for seven days. Mutombeni is charged with undermining the authority of the President. They are persecuting him for protecting the land, lives, livelihoods, culture, heritage, religion and future of the Shangaan in Chilonga. Mutombeni was arrested and detained for days as the State was trying to disturb a meeting convened by MACRAD with the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission. Despite his absence, the meeting was conducted in the presence of ZHRC chairperson Dr Mugwadi, Mr Mukutiri and other civic society organizations. MACRAD further takes the ZHRC to Chilonga for consultation with the affected communities. Mutombeni’s case was remanded to 14 August 2020.
MACRAD members who were summoned to Chiredzi intelligence officer are Graesham, John Tlemo, Dlayi, Bennard, Gamyani, Itai MaChuukele. The intelligence officer called our members, as they were very vocal in resisting the eviction on Saturday 11 July, 2020 at a meeting called by ZANU-PF.
In front of ZANU-PF provincial delegates that included Honorable Masiya and Gwanetsa Alos Baloyi, Jeffas Masosota, Ronald Ndava, villagers, who clearly resisted the eviction, argued that the government should take proper procedures. The members were warned by the state security not to disturb the project of the president.
As some of our member’s are affiliated to the ruling party, they were forced to accept the eviction as their party is supporting the project. From Chiredzi Rural District Special Council minutes, held on 30 April, 2020 in the presence of Local Governance Minister, July Moyo, the project would take 6,500ha of land for lucerne, that covers Wards 6, 7 and 8 – that is Chilonga, Gwaseche and Chibwedziva.
The government did not consult the Shangaan people but just came with the investor, Paul Kruger, in April instructing the villagers to move. On the 4th of July, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Urban Resettlement, Perence Shiri, Minister of Local Government, July Moyo and Masvingo State Minister, E. Chadzamira, visited the Chilonga communities, instructing them to leave their ancestral land. The government is now using its structures to intimidate villagers to leave their land.
The Shangaan people in Chilonga area feel that they are being discriminated on tribal lines as this is a second eviction. At first they were evicted in the Triangle area to pave way for Tongaat Hullets.
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 the socio-economic value of the lucerne project, through their expectancy of its costs and benefits and legislate and enforce a clear prohibition on force.
Source: Masvingo Centre for Research and Development (MACRAD)