16 Jul Written by  Administrator

No green light for Green Fuels as villagers protest

Chisumbanje -- THE Chisumbanje and Chinyamukwaka communities braved intimidation from war veterans and Zimbabwe African Union Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) rowdy supporters, who attempted to hinder their free expression at an interface organised by a Parliamentary Committee in relation to the Green Fuels Ethanol project on Friday, July 11, 2014 at Chisumbanje Primary School.

 

The villagers are demanding that Green Fuels should not be given the free reign to continue with its business venture without addressing their many legitimate grievances.

 

Before the arrival of the Justice Mayor Wadyajena-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Indigenization and Economic Empowerment and journalists at Chisumbanje Primary School, ZANU PF supporters and war veterans took turns to recite ZANU PF political slogans and warn the community not to say anything bad about the Member of Parliament, Hon. Enoch Porusingazi, and the Green Fuels Project, but the move backfired.

 

Claris Madhuku, the Director of the Platform for Youth Development (PYD) who is also the spokesperson of the defunct District Ethanol Implementation Committee (DEPIC) requested the meeting to respect the platform that had been created by Parliament and not to politicise it as it was meant to allow Parliament to hear the concerns of the community.

 

The confrontation led by the former set the tone for a heated meeting where the community told the Parliamentary Committee of their suffering that had been brought by the establishment of the Green Fuels Plant.

 

The heightened drama started immediately after the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee arrived for the hearing at Chisumbanje Primary school.

 

The community slammed the Member of Parliament (MP) for the area, Hon.Enoch Porusingazi, accusing him of siding with political interests and the controversial company in the Green Fuels saga that has raged on since 2008.

 

The community expressed their grievances which have not been addressed as a result of the failure by the MP, Hon. Porusingazi to adequately represent them and his alleged continued absence from the community since his election in the July 2013 elections.

 

The Chisumbanje and Chinyamukwaka communities lambasted Green Fuels, accusing the company of not respecting the community and using politicians to evade the long arm of the law.

 

Green Fuels is owned by controversial business mogul Billy Rautenbach in partnership with the government department, Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA).

 

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) has been working closely with the PYD and the Chisumbanje and Chinyamukwaka communities since 2008 in ensuring the grievances of the community are addressed.

The key grievances of the communities are summarised below:

  1. Compensation promised by Green Fuels has not materialised, the community is bitter that they were dispossessed of their vast tracts of land and given 0.5 ha which is not enough for their farming activities. The community encouraged the government of Zimbabwe to ensure that they have more pieces of land for agricultural purposes.
  2. The community is also bitter in the manner they were disposed of their ancestral land, including the exhumation of the bodies of their beloved ones without consultation in the Chinyamukwaka area.
  3. The community urged the Ministry of Indigenization not to give greenlightto Green Fuels until the challenges they are facing have been resolved. The community requested that government sets up a community ownerships share trust for the affected communities so that they can benefit from the establishment of the plant in their area.
  4. The plant is discharging toxic waste into the environment; the toxic waste has resulted in the depletion of the environment and death of livestock. The community called on the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) to investigate cases were toxic waste has been discharged into the environment and water bodies resulting in injury to the local communities and death of livestock.
  5. The settler farmers who are growing sugarcane have not been paid for the sugar cane they delivered to the plant since 2011. The sugar cane is bought by Green Fuels at USD$4 per tonne whereas it is reported that Triangle and Hippo Valley buys sugarcane from settler farmers at USD$70 per tonne. The farmers feel that they are being robbed of their sugar cane. The farmers asked government to put mechanisms of ensuring their sugar cane is bought at a fair price and also to ensure that Green Fuels pays them their dues.
  6. The company’s workers castigated the human resource management at Green Fuels who they accuse of underpaying workers and not having standard remuneration scales. They allege how much you get depends on how much the employer likes you. Currently there is no worker’s committee at Green Fuels, workers’ union leaders are expelled whenever they carry out their mandate of representing workers to management. The local workers’ committee is not allowed to be affiliated to national workers’ union.
  7. Food security is at risk in Chisumbanje, the community has been forced to abandon their traditional cropsthat they have been growing for ages. This has serious consequences on their productivity since the knowledge that had been passed from generation to generation is rendered useless as they embark on new crops that they have limited experience with. An example of beans was given. Moat farmers were not aware of the insecticides that have to be used resulting in massive losses to the farmers. The encouraged government to ensure that they receive training regarding cultivation of the new crops that they are not growing as a result of being displaced by Green Fuels.
  8. A sizable number of families have migrated to Mozambique after the displacement to pave way for the establishment of the plants. Families have been torn apart as a result of the migration. Government was encouraged to help these families find alternative land for agricultural purposes so that the families can return back to Zimbabwe.

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