Today 05 March 2021 Masvingo Centre for Research Advocacy and Development (MACRAD), Livison Chikutu represented by Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) filed two court applications concurrently at Masvingo magistrate court and Masvingo High Court on behalf of the Chilonga community. The application challenges the constitutionality of section 10 (3) (d) of the communal land act chapter 20:04 and the statutory instrument 50 of 2021 communal (setting aside of Land) (Chiredzi), notice 2021. The applications seeks, a declarator to the effect that, Statutory Instrument 50 of 2021 made from the same is also unconstitutional as it infringes the following rights: (a) Right not to be subjected to arbitrary evictions; (b) Right to Dignity; (c) Right to Religion; (d) Right to procedurally and substantively fair administrative justice. The Applicants alleged that SI 50 of 2021 read together with Section 10 (3) (d) of the Communal Land Act is unconstitutional as it infringes on the right not be subject to arbitrary eviction as provided for under Section 74 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, right to administrative action that is fair and just as provided under Section 68 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the right to dignity as provided by Section 54, right to equal protection and benefit of the law.

The Chilonga Community is found in Chiredzi District, the South Eastern Part of Zimbabwe. The community has consistently and from time immemorial experienced numerous displacements, from the colonial government and post-independence. In May 2020 MACRAD embarked on a fact finding mission regarding the government’s proposed eviction of over 13 840 Xhangaan speaking people to pave way for lucerne grass farming . The enquiry was conducted after the Minister of local Government, Public works and National housing Honorable July Moyo who was acting on behalf of the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural settlement the late honourable P. Shiri convene a meeting in Chiredzi concerning the lucerne project. MACRAD enquiry gives a brief background of the issue and goes on to outline the agriculture, religious and cultural set up within the affected area. The enquiry also looks into the relevant domestic and international legislation and concludes with some recommendations.

In June 2020 MACRAD produced a research paper titled, Forced Displacements amongst The Indigenous Shaghaan People in Chiredzi District where the history of forced displacements in this area is fully captured. The paper focus on the socio-economic implications of the proposed forced Shangaan people in Chiredzi district, investigates the major reasons behind the government’s plans to forcefully displace the minority Shangaan ethnic group from their tribal lands and evaluation of the possible socio-economic vulnerabilities to be experienced by the Shangaan people after the unplanned and forceful dispossession of their land by the Zimbabwean government. The paper further interrogates the Shangaan people’s projected loss of livelihoods, cultural practices and identity, social capital, heritage sites and infringement of their land tenure and access rights to land.

MACRAD further produced a documentary titled, War over land, People vs Grass – A Tale of the Minority Shangaan Tribe. In the documentary MACRAD interviewed local leaders in the affected community, Minister of State and devolution Masvingo, Honorable E. Chadzamira, Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Settlement concerning the proposed eviction. The community managed to air out their views whilst the government preached well about the project. The affected community and majority of the Zimbabwean citizens feel that the lucerne project is not a public need, and thus makes the rights of the Chilonga community illusory.

Source: Masvingo Centre for Research and Community Development (MACRAD)

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