‘I am now contemplating crossing the border and settle in Mozambique” said Mr Jerry Moyana one of the victims of Green Fuel’s expansion drive. His last 42 hectares was expropriated by the company during the 2021 harvest season. His cotton was razed down by the company. The houses were demolished and the livestock driven away. Mr Moyana is a farmer of repute and employs several locals to assist him with farming activities.
However, this is only in the past and Moyana is likely to become an economic refugee. However, unlike millions that went to look for greener pastures in the diaspora, Moyana has been driven off his green pastures by Billy Rutenberg’s Green Fuel.
This is not the first time that green fuel has violently driven off indigenous communities off their land. Which makes one question on where he derives his powers. The question which is left in the minds of many is where is the company getting all these powers. It seems the government, parliament, civic society, the judiciary and the local communities have been hearing heart rending stories of displaced indigenous groups with the common denominator being Gruel Fuel.
Green fuel started displacements in Chisumbanje and Checheche, now like a raging wild fire, green fuel has spread over Chinyamukwakwa leaving the community hopeless and with no one but themselves to protect that which belongs to them. Essentially the issue now concerns the whole of Chipinge south. The whole of Chipinge south is now being treated like an alien community and the authorities like the company are guilty by commission or by omission
Internal displacements are guided by the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (Kampala Convention) to which Zimbabwe is a state party. The Convention applies to any form of internal displacement regardless of the cause. Article XV states that “States Parties agree that except where expressly stated in this Convention, its provisions apply to all situations of internal displacement regardless of its causes.” Article 3 of the convention states that “1. States Parties undertake to respect and ensure respect for the present Convention. In particular, States Parties shall: a) Refrain from, prohibit and prevent arbitrary displacement of populations;” We are convinced that the displacement is arbitrary for the following reasons;
- There was no proper consultation, the affected people were not consulted and as a result there was no free consent.
- There was no alternative land before the eviction was carried out. People could not have consent to leaving their ancestral and farming land with no alternative.
- There is no impact assessment report for the eviction and there is not relocation to talk about.
- There is no plan in place for relocation neither is there a plan for compensating the affected people.
The government has not done enough to refrain from, prohibit and prevent arbitrary displacement of the Chinyamukwakwa community. As a result, the government of Zimbabwe has failed to respect and ensure respect for the present convention and it must be held to account.
Article 4 states that “4. All persons have a right to be protected against arbitrary displacement. The prohibited categories of arbitrary displacement include but are not limited to: … f) Forced evacuations in cases of natural or human made disasters or other causes if the evacuations are not required by the safety and health of those affected;”
The Chinyamukwakwa case is a man-made disaster. Green Fuel has moved in with their sugarcane growing project, it demolished houses. The displacement is done purely for private business enterprise which is set to benefit a private individual and the people are not being evacuated for their own safety or health.
Paragraph 5 of Article 4 further illustrates that “5. States Parties shall endeavour to protect communities with special attachment to, and dependency, on land due to their particular culture and spiritual values from being displaced from such lands, except for compelling and overriding public interests;” the Chinyamukwakwa community displacement deprives them of their land, their livelihood, their culture and spiritual value and there is no compelling and overriding public interest to do so.
Any displacement induced by a developmental agenda must follow the convention’s set standards which include the following found in Article populations; X “1. States Parties, as much as possible, shall prevent displacement caused by projects carried out by public or private actors; 2. States Parties shall ensure that the stakeholders concerned will explore feasible alternatives, with full information and consultation of persons likely to be displaced by projects; 3. States parties shall carry out a socio-economic and environmental impact assessment of a proposed development project prior to undertaking such a project.”
Human Rights Lawyer Arnold Tsunga likens the displacement of communal farmers in Zimbabwe to “colonial forcible expropriation of land paradoxically sanctioned by a government claiming to be led by a liberation movement.” He noted that displacements have reached alarming proportions and should stop.
The man behind Green Fuel, Rautenbach has been a controversial figure, once listed on United States individuals under sanctions during Robert Mugabe era.
Rautenberg’s name also appeared in leaked Panama documents accused of helping companies, celebrities, businessmen and politicians launder money through illicit financial flows and sanctions-busting.
Former Zanu PF youth league commissar Godfrey Tsenengamu and Lewis Matutu last year accused Rautenberg of spiralling fuel price upwards thereby making ordinary Zimbabweans suffer in the end. The Zimbabwe government has made it a mandatory to blend petroleum under Statutory Instrument 17 of 2013.