Govt Flinches In Land Dispute Saga

By Beven Takunda

Chisumbanje, September 9, 2013 – President Robert Mugabe’s administration has baulked at dispossessing several villagers of their land holdings after agreeing to physically map the land boundaries that would end a six year –old land dispute between Chinyamukwakwa villagers and Macdom Investments, an ethanol producing firm.

The consensus to end the land ownership dispute was reached at a meeting held on Friday by the Ethanol Plant Implementation Committee, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), members of the Zimbabwe Prison Service, and chaired by the local District Administrator Edgar Seenza.

“The ZRP and the District Administration officer at the meeting persuaded us to engage the disgruntled community in a more amicable way of resolving the issue. We agreed to their appeal and went back to our constituency where we engaged then in batches of ten. What is exciting is that parties agreed to physically visit the disputed land and set boundaries on Tuesday. So next Tuesday the District Administration Officer and the villagers will be mapping the physical boundaries, and to us we believe this is going to end the dispute,” Claris Madhuku, leader of Platform for Youth Development and a member of the Ethanol Plant Implementation Committee told Radio VOP at the weekend.

Madhuku said villagers are not opposed to the existence of Macdom Investments’ but contested the new land boundaries which meant that they would lose part of their farm land.

“What the community is resisting is being further pushed from their land. They want to know where the boundaries are. They do not want to continue losing their land .If that is so they are demanding that government should show them the boundaries,” Madhuku added.

Villagers accuse Macdom Investments of starting to invade fresh land which they were occupying for farming purposes.

Last week, the police arrested at least forty villagers from Chinyamukwakwa accusing them of undermining peace in the area.

They were however released without being charged.

The multi-million dollar ethanol production company acquired 400 000 hectares of land from government which was being used by local villagers. However, the villagers’ argue that they should have been consulted by the government when it gave the land to the firm.

On the other, Macdom Investments insists that its presence in Chisumbanje has transformed lives of communities through employment creation and infrastructure development.

The establishment of commercial banks and road maintenance at Checheche growth point are some of the developments which the company cites as having championed through its establishment in Chisumbanje.