A politically volatile and corruption infested case is exploding in Shurugwi’s southern part of Ruchanyu, where a Councillor is embroidered in a dispute with irrigation farmers over allocating a so called investor land in an irrigation scheme that has always been a source of livelihood for the rural community of Ruchanyu, Shurugwi.
It is said that sometime in May of 2018, the investor approached the district council management committee seeking for land to establish a smelter in the district. The same then listed potential wards for the investment. The project then had to be set up in the irrigation scheme where the Ministry of Lands had just allocated a 75 horse power water pump to resuscitate the scheme.
The scheme had become a source of life to people who had been temporarily moved there from Porta farm. In December 2018 a ground breaking ceremony at the site got no attendance due to the controversy surrounding the site by locals. In January of 2019 the investor teamed up with a local Councillor and began construction at the site. A petition was signed by 76 of the 85 member irrigation scheme plot holders and was handed over to the Mines Ministry, Lands and the District Administrator. Other copies where sent to EMA with irrigation farmers objecting over the construction at the site.
A copy was also sent to the local Member of Parliament who intervened by telling the investor to follow due process. However, the investor started fencing off the site and construction continued. In the process 4 hectares of the scheme was affected. The investor claimed to have a letter giving him rights from one Portnex who had earlier been given the right to mine chrome at the site before the irrigation came info existence some 16 years ago. However, Zimasco the land owners and holders of mining rights had ceded rights to the community via the irrigation scheme as part of indeginisation program in 2005 and a total of 100 hectares was given to the community for various projects.
After the investor failed to pay heed to a letter from the lawyers representing the farmers, the irrigation farmers went on to have audience with the Resident minister and various ministries and stakeholders and the Mines ministry was instructed unanimously in the meeting to evict the investor.
According to the villagers, the Police delayed in serving the letter notifying the investor of his eviction. Some individuals had to threaten to expose the issue to the media then the investor was finally served. The councilor then hatched another plan to try and trick the farmers in the irrigation scheme. He and the investor began to visit irrigation farmers separately offering them bribes to accept his presence at the site and within 3 working days he brought a delegation of 16 farmers from Ruchanyu to the District Administrators offices. This time he claimed to have received a land offer from someone with a field 70 metres away from the scheme. His real intention was to reclaim the land. The District Administrator was used as a bait to quell dissenting voices from Ruchanyu.
The investor further gave bribes to two individuals and roped in a bogus war veteran who went about harassing the farmers at Ruchanyu. A plan was hatched to help the investor to own the land via the courts and the investor would fund the application. With all this brewing, the local Councilor has since deserted his ward and is now seen moving in a brand new car in Gweru thanks to his newly found fortune from corruption. The investor who is now ready to begin operations still has to get the blessings of the community of farmers who won’t allow his project since chrome dust will harm their crops in the fields.
With corruption rife it waits to be seen whether all offices must have to be checked on their roles in this case. The Councilor clearly must come clean on the issue as well.
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