via War vets vow tycoon Rautenbach war 14 July 2014
WAR veterans, traditional leaders and ordinary villagers in Chisumbanje have demanded that Green Fuel compensate them for land taken by the Ethanol project failing which “there will be blood on the floor”.
Speaking at a parliamentary public hearing in Chisumbanje, war veteran James Maphosa threatened business tycoon Billy Rautenbach whom they accused of hiring the country’s detractors to work at the factory at the expense of locals who are now destitute.
Rautenbach, who pioneered the project, has since been forced into a partnership with the government but the company remains embroiled in a wrangle as villagers are demanding a stake and compensation for land seized to pave way for the deal.
“If people who lost their land to the project are not compensated now, soon there will be war at the processing plant,” Maphosa told the parliamentary committee on Youth and Indigenisation chaired by Zanu PF MP for Gokwe Nembudziya, Justice Mayor Wadyajena.
Some 1,750 villagers were displaced to pave way for the project but only 500 have been re-settled, leaving the rest to suffer as destitute, activists claim.
“He (Rautenbach) is now trying to recolonise us … but after waging a bitter war against his fellow whites, we will not allow that to happen,” said Maphosa, a member of the national war veterans association.
“He is taking resources generated from this project to his kith and kin in London. He must compensate for the land they took from communal farmers.”
The war vet added: “We know that he is employing whites who lost land during the liberation struggle … we will not allow that to continue.
“The people love this project but the manner in which he is doing it is very bad. Our people are dying of hunger because they have no source of livelihood.”
The committee was in Chisumbanje to hear the grievances of displaced families with most of them saying the project was only benefiting selected individuals.
The villagers had also no kind words for local MP, Enock Porusingazi.
“He is unhelpful to us. We are suffering here because we don’t have a representative who can take our case to the investor so that he fulfils agreements we made when he came here to establish his plant.
“Since he was voted into power, we have not seen him here. He has abandoned us but before the July 31 (2013) elections, we used to work together and fight for the development of this area together.”
Local chiefs chipped in saying Rautenbach must compensate farmers who lost their land as most of them were failing to send their children to school.
“When he came here, we thought we had found a saviour, but six years down the line, things are not looking well for most families,” said Chief Garahwa.
“It is time things changed, we are tired of promises from the investor because our people are dying,” he said.
Company workers are not happy either.
“White employees are not searched at the gate but blacks are subjected to this. The union is denied the right to represent its members … also workers are denied the right to join a union of their choice.”