Hundreds of families in Chinyamukwakwa area of Chipinge South are living in fear of displacement after a local ethanol-producing company Green Fuel moved to dispossess them of their ancestral land to further its production plans.
Neither Green Fuel nor ARDA through the District Development Coordinator has produced any documentation to justify that the land occupied by the villagers belongs to the loss-making state entity.
Farmers are reportedly receiving threats from security agents who in most cases accompany the Green Fuel Public Relations officer Merit Rumema Sibanda.
One of the farmers Ms. Ton’ase said one of the days the District Development Coordinator Mr. Mashava, local legislator Enock Poru, Green Fuel representatives, Chief Garahwa, and security agents came to her field and told her to harvest her crops or have them plowed down.
”I asked for time to allow my crops to ripen up but Mashava equated me to a thief caught stealing saying I had no right to demand more time. My crops were just three weeks away from harvest but they had none of that,” said Ton’ase.
“I wonder why Mr. Mashava was speaking on behalf of the company, we suspect this company is paying them to be this hard on us. Even our MP is not even standing with us but rather accusing us of disobeying the orders given,” she added.
Reached for comment the local MP Enock Porusingazi sided with the company saying the land which Chinyamukwakwa villagers are using is state land owned by ARDA.
Asked what he is doing for the people that he represents, Porusingazi said he is pushing the company to avail irrigation land, subtly admitting that he has not consulted them.
“Yes I was part of the delegation that visited the area but we did not see any fields plowed down as claimed by the farmers. The truth is the farmers defied and cultivated the land which had signposts prohibiting them from cultivating the land. Upon our visit, they were virtually empty fields where a farmer cannot harvest anything.”
”My position is clear the Investor must develop land and turn it into irrigation and give the farmers be it 0.5, hector or 2 then make sure the plots are under irrigation,” said Porusingazi.
Land displacement has become a big issue in Chipinge and local leaders including District Development Coordinator, local MP and Chipinge Rural District Council have all decided to side with Green Fuel while failing to protect desperate and vulnerable villagers.
The villagers have since turned to Professor Lovemore Madhuku who has vowed to fight the company head-on and ensure that the villagers’ right to land is protected.