No villager will be displaced from where they are settled by the planned Chilonga Irrigation Scheme in Chiredzi, whose aim is to develop and empower people in the drier region, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga has said.
VP Chiwenga was speaking during a meeting with local traditional and political leaders at Gibbo Stadium in Triangle on Sunday, where he was accompanied by some Cabinet Ministers.
Those opposing the developmental project, including the opposition MDC Alliance and some anti-development activists, had been feeding villagers in Chilonga with wrong information in a bid to turn them against the project which is meant to uplift their lives.
The villagers were being told that Government wanted to displace them from their ancestral land to pave way for farming activities.
VP Chiwenga said the irrigation project was part of President Mnangagwa’s Vision 2030 which aims at uplifting the lives of everyone, especially those in marginalised areas like Chilonga.
He said Government had identified areas in the country’s dry regions where economic activities such as farming and mining could be spearheaded.
Areas like Chilonga are generally dry in terms of rains, but have water bodies and irrigable land which when utilitised can effectively improve the lives of locals and contribute to the economy.
The Runde River catchment, which includes Chilonga, has been identified as having rich soils and water bodies that can aide the development of irrigation.
Besides the sugarcane being produced in the region, there is potential for irrigation farming, tourism and mining.
VP Chiwenga said locals would be prioritised in the irrigation projects that would be established in many other dry areas apart from Chilonga, with two hectares of irrigation expected in each Ward.
“Tatsemura tsemura nzvimbo kuti vanhu vagone kubudirira. Vana vemuno vanotanga kuwana pekurima vamwe wozopindawo. Matunhu ese kusanganisa ne Chilonga inofanirwa kuva ne two hectares dzekurima muWard,” said VP Chiwenga.
Chief Sengwe and Chief Chilonga expressed their delight with how VP Chiwenga cleared the air surrounding the future of the people of Chilonga.
They welcomed the fact that no one would be displaced.
In response to farmers who wanted more land for sugarcane farming, VP Chiwenga made it clear that they should concentrate on their pieces and give a chance to others who also needed land.
He warned farmers underutilising land that these would be considered for downsizing and re-allocation to deserving new applicants.
VP Chiwenga took the opportunity to address other challenges that people of Chiredzi are facing and these included the lack of access to telecommunication signals for mobile phones and broadcasting, the need for reconstruction of Runde Bridge which links Chiredzi town and Chilonga and the connecting roads with Chikombedzi.
He said Government planned major projects to harness irrigation water from water bodies in Masvingo province.
Muzhwi Dam will irrigate Mushandike Irrigation Scheme, whilst Lake Mutirikwi will supply water to farmers along Mutare Road.
Manjirenji Dam will be utilised by local small holder famers in the area, whilst Tugwi-Mukosi will generate electricity and supply water to downstream irrigation schemes.