Chiredzi villagers ordered off their land to make way for major dairy project

CHIREDZI — The government has ordered evictions from the Chilonga area of Chiredzi to make way for a large Lucerne grass project to be run by Dendairy, one of the country’s biggest dairy firms, according to a new government notice.

Statutory Instrument 50 of 2021 gazetted on Friday designates 12,940 hectares of communal land for the production of Lucerne grass for dairy production. It orders the eviction of locals, who have strongly resisted the project.

“The area of land described hereunder in terms of the Schedule shall be set aside with effect from the date of publication of this notice for the purpose of Lucerne production. Any person occupying or using the land specified in the schedule, otherwise than by virtue of a right held in terms of the Mines and Minerals Act, is ordered to depart permanently with all of his or her property from the said land by the date of publication of this notice, unless he or she acquires rights of use or occupation to the said land in terms of section (9)(1) of the Communal Land Act,” says the notice.

This SI means that the gazetted area of land is no longer part of the Chiredzi communal land.

Locals oppose the project, and community leaders protested openly during a tour of the area by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and top government officials in June last year.

“We have tried all possible means to show them that we are not interested in their project but they insisted,” community leader Livison Chikutu says.