EIGHT community leaders from Chilonga area were briefly detained at Chiredzi Police Station on Thursday after continuously resisting the establishment of lucerne plantations on their ancestral land.
Lucerne products were torched at Chibwedziva business centre last Friday as the villagers intensify their opposition to the envisaged displacement.
Kwekwe-based dairy company Dendairy sponsored selected community members to tour similar projects in Lupane and they later brought harvested lucerne for the community leaders to feed their cattle, but it was set alight in the middle of the night at the Veterinary Services offices at Chibwedziva where it was stored.
Among those picked up by the police were Chigombe Ganyani, Gireshamu Marhilele, Petro John, Macholoti Funny, Chandinofira Gezani, Abraham Hasani and Dickson Vhelemu.
They were questioned at the police Law and Order section and later released, with security sources telling The NewsHawks that investigations are still incomplete.
Chiredzi district development coordinator Lovemore Chisema told The NewsHawks that he was not aware of the arrest of the community leaders, but said he was aware that a room where lucerne was stored at Chibwedziva was set on fire last Friday.
He said police are investigating the matter, with the latest incident showing that resistance within the community is escalating.
“I am not aware of the arrest of people, maybe it is because l was not in the office. What l know is that there was fire sometime last Friday at a veterenary building where lucerne products were being stored before distribution to the people. It shows the level of resistance within the communities, but consultations are still ongoing and we hope all parties will find a common position,” said Chisema.
Masvingo Centre for Research Advocacy and Community Development (MACRAD) programmes manager Ephraim Mthombeni said the government should find effective grievance handling mechanisms so that the authorities and the effected Chilonga community can communicate freely instead of resorting to intimidation and arrests.
“The indigenous Shangaan people are not against any development in their area. They need enough information about the whole project, which is proving to be difficult. The government and local authority should decide effective grievance redress and feedback mechanisms to allow communication between government officials and the affected community. Intimidation and petty arrests can’t solve anything. The government and the investor should be sober and respect the supreme law of land,” said Mthombeni.