Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

***The views expressed in the articles published on this website DO NOT necessarily express the views of the Commercial Farmers' Union.***

Chisumbanje Villagers Threaten To Destroy Ethanol Project

Chisumbanje Villagers Threaten To Destroy Ethanol Project

By Garikai Chaunza, Chisumbanje, October 11, 2011 – The multimillion dollar 
Ethanol production plant which is nearing competition is being threatened 
with destruction by disgruntled villagers who plan to invade the 40 000 
hectare sugar cane irrigation plantation to grow cotton.

This is as a result of a long standing land dispute between Macdom Private 
Company in charge of the plant and the local community.

Radio VOP visited the area and met angry villagers who said while they were 
not opposed to the ethanol project, they were not happy with the process of 
implementation which they described as ‘unjust’.

“The whole community is from next week going to plough in the area,” said 
Headman Chisumbanje who was leading angry villagers. “We are not afraid of 
what comes after because we have no source of livelihood…other than the 
land which the company grabbed from us. As a matter of fact we have been 
battling with this company since it came here three years ago that we need 
our land which we used to rely on. We have been further impoverished by this 

Headman Manyanga said they had been disempowered by the company because it 
had taken their land.

The company was given the 40 000 hectares of land with irrigation facilities 
by Agriculture & Rural Development Authority – ARDA which was previously 
utilising only 5 000 hectares.

Villagers had been using the 35 000 hectares of land for peasant farming 
since the 1950s.

Radio VOP visited the areas’ paramount chief Tobias Hliziyo Garawe to get 
the historical background of the disputed land.

“It’s true that villagers were using the land since time immemorial but it’s 
unfounded that they were displaced by the arrival of this company in 
question,” said Chief Garwe. “What used to happen was that the land was 
reserved for sugarcane production in the 1950 well before the country 
attained independence. The community did not build permanent homes there 
because of this but used to till in the lands knowingly that it was a 
reserved area for the project which upon the attainment of independence the 
country could not find an investor, till three years ago. So the area has a 
long history which the new generation might not easily understand,” he said.

The area’s local member of Parliament Meki Makuyana, who said he was not 
opposed to the ethanol project, said the community was worried by 
irregularities in the process of the company’s takeover of the 35 000 
hectares of land which had for a long time not been used by ARDA.

Makuyana said he has approached government to quickly redress the issue for 
the smooth running of the ethanol project.

“What is confusing is the fact that the issue falls under a number of 
government ministries and departments. But what I have done to avoid the 
potential massive disturbances of the project, is that of approaching Prime 
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai who personally visited the areas on a fact 
finding mission. After his visit he recently sent a ministerial delegation 
which also visited the area for assessment and we are still waiting for its 
report and response.

“As the local Member of Parliament I am not opposed to the project which 
whose idea is noble, but I am worried by lack of community consultation 
hence this dispute, which can be resolved if proper engagement with 
concerned parties is done,”Makuyana said.

Contacted for Comment Macdom Representative, Alex Zichauya, said they have 
no issues with villagers as they got the land from ARDA.

“We are not aware of any evictions or displacements of people from the area 
are we are operating from. Yes we understand that they were people who used 
to use the 35 000 hectares which ARDA was not using which were reserved for 
the project and as a company we have since embraced them through giving them 
irrigated sugarcane portions. In fact we have allocated 10% of all the newly 
cultivated land constituting 4 000 hectares of flood irrigation to the local 
community. Under this programme we are providing them with the inputs as 
well as watering their portions which are within the irrigation scheme, and 
this a life time programme we have brought to the community which used to 
use the land which we are now using .It’s unfortunate that there are a few 
individuals who are resisting the project which on a broader scope is a 
national benefit, “he said.


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