HARARE – At least 3,000 beneficiaries of government’s land reform process face eviction from their land at a Chegutu farm to pave way for a platinum mining venture by a private firm.
The pending eviction has been flagged as a violation of the land beneficiaries’ rights by the Zimbabwe Land and Agrarian Network (ZiLAN) that has been closely monitoring developments at Hopewell Farm.
The property has been earmarked for a platinum project by a private firm, Global Platinum Resources.
In a statement Tuesday, ZiLAN called on Zimbabwean authorities to first agree on appropriate compensation measures with land owners before embarking on any forced relocations.
“The Zimbabwe Land and Agrarian Network (ZiLAN), on its traditional Annual Policy meeting held on the 24th of November 2022, deliberated on various policy issues and their implications on smallholder farmers,” said the group.
“As a network working with smallholder farmers in pursuit of land rights and the advancement of socio-economic status, noted a disturbing trend of threats of evictions and /or actual evictions of smallholder farmers in communal and resettlement areas to pave way for investments in various forms.
“Information received from smallholder farmers across the country point out that in most cases the affected communities are excluded or inadequately consulted while in some cases farmers have been displaced without receiving commensurate compensation.”
ZiLAN said most of the farmers domiciled in the area were legally allocated this land as far back as 2000 under the Fast Track Land Reform Programme (FTLRP) and have been farming on this land since then.
Added the group, “From our ongoing engagements with key stakeholders involved, the community in question has not been adequately consulted with regards to the development. As we monitor the situation closely, it is our firm belief that this development infringes on the fundamental rights and freedoms of people as set out in Section 72 of the Zimbabwe Constitution.
“While cognisant of the fact that development will always result in the inevitable loss of land by communities, the network calls for the following to ensure that the land rights of people are protected and upheld; we therefore implore that; due diligence, due process, transparency and accountability be followed in all land matters that have the potential to affect livelihoods.
“There be speedy crafting and implementation of the National Gender-Sensitive Land Policy.
“In cases of eviction, compensation should be agreed on and honored through an inclusive processes for the benefit of all parties concerned.
“Respect for people’s cultural and spiritual practices be upheld.
“Compensation should not only be about resettlement but restitution.
“Mechanisms should be put in place and followed throughout to enable communities to gainfully participate and benefit from private investments that would have negatively affected them in one way or another.”
The decision to evict the land beneficiaries is a slap in the face to government’s spirited attempts to empower locals with the prime economic resource previously in the hands of white commercial farmers.