The spokesperson for the affected villagers in Chisumbanje Gwenzi Wedzerai told Radio VOP in an interview that the company at present moment is growing sugarcane on 5 112 hectares of land and would want to acquire more land so that they are able to produce 80 000 kilolitres of Ethanol per day.
Wedzerai said villagers in Chisumbanje feel very much cheated by the project which they viewed as a development to their area when it started two years ago.
“We thought this project was going to bring relief to the people of Chisumbanje but it’s actually displacing them,” said Wedzerai.
Wedzerai said so far about 83 families from Rimayi and Chinyamukwakwa villages have relocated to neighbhouring Mozambique after the company has encroached into communal plots and ploughing down people’s crops.
“The only people that have received compensation are war vets who got US$600 and they are using these people to intimidate villagers who are opposing the project,” said Wedzerai.
Wedzerai also said that a lot of villagers are losing their cattle to the company when these cattle stray into the sugar cane plantations. The penalty for livestock that would have strayed into the sugar plantations is US$20 per head.
“Villagers are being forced to sell some of their livestock for them to be able to pay the penalty,” Wedzerai said.
Wedzerai said they have presented their grievances to the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirayi who has promised to look into the issue.
Contacted for comment Basil Nyabadza who represents the ARDA board said it’s a subject to talk about while people are seated. ARDA is leasing out its Chisumbanje land to Macdom Investments.
“Everything that we have been doing in Chisumbanje has been out of consensus with the villagers, but maybe out of 10 villagers you get two who say something, I think we need to meet and seat down and talk about it,” said Nyabadza in a telephone interview.