Green Fuel has roped in the Joint Operation Command (JOC) to supress villagers who are demanding that the ethanol-producing company fulfil its social community responsibility obligations.
JOC comprises the provincial heads of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services (ZPCS).
They accompanied Provincial Minister Mandiitawepi Chimene to Chisumbanje recently. Green Fuel has been embroiled in running battles with villagers, especially in Chinyamukwakwa, for months. The villagers are demanding the two hectares of irrigated land promised to them. They have only been given 0,5 hectares. In addition their livestock have been impounded for straying into the company’s sugarcane plantations and they have been made to pay $4 fines per beast.
Moreover, they lament that most of their relatives who were employed by the company were unfairly retrenched, while the few still employed have gone for over nine months without salaries.
Chimene assured Green Fuel boss Billy Rautenbach that she would use her political muscle to silence the hapless villagers. “We will command those people, we will teach them. Asingadi ngaabve ipapo (leave the land if you don’t want it),” she ordered.
“I know some of you will say I was paid by Billy to say this but that’s your own thinking. This is a national project and anything that comes in its way, I will deal with it. Billy I will help you solve those challenges. I will go there to Chinyamukwakwa and do meetings. I will ask all those who are troublesome to stand and I will name and shame them, they can hate me if they wish, I don’t care, I’m not from here,” she added.
Say pamberi neZanu
Chimene then urged the business tycoon to pledge his allegiance to Zanu (PF) in exchange for protection. “Now Billy this is why when we say pamberi neZanu PF, you should say pamberi, because it is the party that offers you that protection,” she said – as Rautenbach nodded in agreement.
The Green Fuel boss had pleaded with Chimene to protect his investment from the community members, who are disgruntled by the empty promises he made at the inception of the project.
Rautenbach fingered former Energy Minister Elton Mangoma of mobilising the villagers to stand up against his investment.
Chipinge District administrator Edgar Seenza advised Chimene to handle the Chinyamukwakwa issue with care.
“The problem here is that there were promises made to our people. Though they were not written on paper our people listened when everything was said. This is why they are demanding the issues to be fulfilled. So the problems are coming from the false promises made to the people.
“The relationship between our people and the company is not smooth, especially with the people from Chinyamukwakwa. The village should be handled with care. At one point we had to run for dear life when we tried going there to address their differences with the company. Knives were thrown at us,” said Seenza.
The district administrator also accused the company of by-passing government in their proposal to acquire more land measuring 200 hectares. Seenza said Green Fuel should respect government and fulfil its promise to resettle the 888 families displaced to make way for the project.