The Zimbabwean government on Tuesday amended legislation, subsequently legalizing the displacement of an indigenous minority group from their ancestral land.
The lucerne grass project, a brainchild of Dendairy, a Zimbabwean dairy company, is set to result in the displacement of over 12,500 villagers in the Chilonga area of the town of Chiredzi in Masvingo province.
While making the amendment to the controversial statutory instrument, the government only changed the wording in some provisions without backtracking from plans to displace the villagers.
As such, it instead issued Statutory Instrument 63A of 2021 to correct Statutory Instrument 50 of 2021, which was issued a week ago.
“It is hereby notified, for general information, that the Communal Land (setting aside of land) (Chiredzi) notice, 2021, published in SI 50 of 2021, contained errors,” said SI 63A of 2021.
Subsequently, the Statutory Instrument was corrected “by the deletion of the words ‘purpose of lucerne production’” and substituted with the “establishment of an irrigation scheme.”
Last week, Zimbabwe’s Magistrates’ Court ruled against the evictions of Chilonga villagers after the Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (ZELA) filed an urgent chamber application seeking to interdict the government from proceeding with its plan.
Zimbabwe’s presidential spokesperson George Charamba has refuted claims that villagers will be displaced.
“The primary law, the Communal Lands Act, does not permit displacement of communities for purposes of establishing a crop. What it provides for is reorganization and re-planning of communal human settlements to allow for irrigated land use,” Charamba said.