Locals, Greenfuel land dispute rages

A land dispute between communal farmers and Greenfuel has erupted in Chisumbanje, amid suspicions that some political powers are fanning the conflict.

Jeremiah Nyamunda, Mike Mashava, Pheneaus Muyambo and Taurai Makuyana from Chinyamukwakwa Village were recently arrested and detained for five hours at Chisumbanje Police Station for resisting eviction by the company.

They were only released after about 100 fellow villagers offered themselves for arrest at police station if the four were not set free. According to sources on the ground, Greenfuel was allegedly breaching a land boundary agreement reached with local villagers under mediation of the District Ethanol Plant Implementation Committee, chaired by outgoing Deputy Prime Minister, Arthur Mutambara.

“Before elections, relations between the two parties were cordial. Hostilities only began when Zanu (PF) claimed victory, and Greenfuel started claiming land outside its agreed borders,” said a villager who could not be identified for fear of retribution.

The Director of Platform for Youth Development Trust Committee who sits on the DEPIC, Claris Madhuku, expressed fear that the wrangle could scupper good relations between the company and villagers.

“I am shocked to learn that the election outcome has given other stakeholders a new thinking that is exclusionary,” Madhuku told The Zimbabwean in telephone interview.

He said villagers were worried that some individuals within Greenfuel could be using political muscle to elbow poor villagers off the land and vowed that his committee would defend the interests of locals regarding the land boundary conflict at all costs.

It seems Greenfuel has abandoned the dialogue platform provided by DEPIC and opted for intimidation, to weaken the resistance mounted by villagers in defence of their communal land. There are reports that some Zanu (PF) officials want total control of the fuel project and the land, at the expense of suspected opposition sympathisers.

The Zanu (PF) Member of Parliament for Chipinge South, Enoch Porusingazi, said there was no land dispute to write home about. He said the land deal between Greenfuel and the locals would help empower communities through free irrigation facilities provided by the company.

“The so-called dispute was out of political wrangles and ignorance on the part of some villagers,” Porusingazi told The Zimbabwean.

He said after realising benefits of the project, villagers were stampeding for remaining pieces of land and access to the irrigation system. Efforts to get comment from Greenfuel were unsuccessful.

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