Through research, MACRAD learnt in March 2021 that the government had intentions of evicting thousands of people in the Chilonga area in Chiredzi, South East of Zimbabwe. A fact finding inquiry was conducted within the area and MACRAD learnt that the government’s reason for the proposed evictions was to pave way for Dendairy, a privately owned dairy company, to grow lucerne for its cattle. After the research enquiry, a well comprehensive position paper titled “ Forced displacements amongst the Indigenous Shaghaan people in Chiredzi District” was published on the MACRAD Website. Soon after the publication, The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) engaged MACRAD and a meeting was conducted at MACRAD offices. The main agenda was discussing the human rights issues involved in the proposed eviction and suggesting possible solutions and recommendations. Present at the meeting were representatives of two other concerned civic society organisations, ZHRC Chairperson and other ZHRC officials.
Between March 2020 and 25 February 2021 MACRAD conducted several discussion meetings with thousands of villagers in the Chilonga area. The main agenda of these discussions was to capacitate the villagers in so far as their Constitutional rights are concerned. The villagers were also informed that the government had legal authority to set aside Communal land but due process must be followed.Statistics held by MACRAD show that about 95% of the villagers were against government’s proposed eviction. On 26 February 2021, the government published the Communal Land (setting aside of land) Chiredzi) Notice of 2021 commonly known as Statutory Instrument 50 of 2021. The Statutory Instrument had two main purposes. The first object was to set aside Communal land measuring about 12940 hectares in Chiredzi to pave way for lucerne production. The second purpose was to promptly evict all the villagers living within the identified land.Having realised that fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution had been infringed and that several more were likely to be infringed through the government’s eviction of Chilonga community through SI 50/2021, MACRAD acted on public interest and approached the High Court for relief in terms of Section 85 (1)(d) of the Constitution
Read the full statement here (PDF)
Source: Masvingo Centre for Research and Development (MACRAD)