Statement on the Inter-Ministerial Committee Report on Chisumbanje Ethanol Project

The report by the Chisumbanje ethanol project inter-ministerial committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara is commendable. As Platform for Youth Development, we note and appreciate their bravery in publicising a fair report on the activities around the controversy of the project.

As an organisation working with the affected community, we accept that the project is of great strategic importance to Zimbabwe, as noted by the report. The report was able to highlight the challenges that needed intervention to ensure co-existence between villagers and the company. Most of the concerns raised by the community have been the basis for our involvement as a stakeholder leading to national and international outcry for government intervention.

Whilst the project had promised employment for the locals, support for smallholder out grower scheme farmers, generation of large amounts of electrical power, nothing was done in transparency and accountability.

The company did not believe in consultations, a situation that has left them with unchecked selfish interest that failed to match with stakeholders.

PYD is therefore happy with the approach taken by the inter-ministerial committee, particularly its chairperson, who was able to facilitate a stakeholder consultation that respected equal voice for the vulnerable and poor villagers. Our leadership role as an organisation was also given due recognition as we have always demanded a stake in the negotiation processes.

It should be born in mind that PYD was primarily concerned with the non-existence of good relations between villagers and the company.

The report was also able to capture some of the underlying concerns, the media could not access. The distressed calls from wantonly displaced and mishandled villagers have finally reached the government. The report was able to confirm that the Green Fuel caused the dispute around boundary issues by encroaching into communal land without following proper procedures.

Furthermore, the superiority tactics employed by the company such as impounding livestock belonging to villagers and charging exorbitant fines were captured in the inter-ministerial committee report. The report also confirms that crops were destructed with people beaten for daring to do normal business in their communal land. Such details contained in the report clearly justifies why we are applauding the report.

The 0, 5 ha (one size fits all) which was imposed by the company also received condemnation by the report which noted its inadequacy considering the size of the disadvantaged families. A recommendation of 2 hectares’ is sensible though there is need to check on the feasibility with the villagers and other stakeholders.

The insensitivity showed by the company in destroying crops belonging to the villagers for four years was also noted. The report also noted the discrepancy of local employment where only 25% of the employed population were locals. The report describes this as unacceptable and we stand to demand a 75% local content.

PYD therefore wish to advice the inter-ministerial team to guard closely these cabinet approved recommendations so that they are fully implemented for the benefit of the community.

We are aware of many reports that have been approved at cabinet level but are gathering dust whilst beneficiaries continue to suffer. As a community, the people of Chisumbanje have promised never to get tired in pursuit of land justice, an indicator that the government need to walk the talk.

PYD condemn attempts by the company, already undermining the spirit of the report by giving selected political activists 10kgs of maize meal and $50 using the compensation language. As far as we are concerned, this is a non-event because proper compensation is a professional process with a framework where we are expecting to be involved as a stakeholder.

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