Heal Zimbabwe partner, Masvingo Center for Research and Development (MACRAD), has recorded key milestones in ensuring that communities in Chiredzi demand their right to property and advocate for citizen led development.
Following a meeting convened by the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, Honourable July Moyo and Traditional leaders on 30 April 2020, local communities were told that the government had identified 6 500hectares of land earmarked for a Lucerne project and such a development meant that the local Shangaan people were going to be evicted off their land. The land covers ward 6, 7 and 8 (Chilonga, Gwaseche and Chibwedziva areas) in Chiredzi South Constituency. The eviction was going to affect 678 villages with 2 258 households and 13 840 people.
Through assistance from Heal Zimbabwe, MACRAD conducted a series of dialogues and trainings with the Shangaan speaking people on social, economic, property, land and human rights. MACRAD also conducted a peace building and conflict transformation training with young women and youths in the Shangaan communities. As part of stakeholder engagements, MACRAD organised a breakfast meeting with the Chiredzi Rural District Council officials as a way of trying to resolve the land conflict.
Such interventions by MACRAD culminated in a research titled, “Forced displacements amongst The Indigenous Shaghaan People in Chiredzi District”. The findings of the research were presented to Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), Chiredzi Rural District Council, Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Resettlement, District Development Coordinator and other relevant institutions. This research caught the attention of the ZHRC and saw MACRAD convening a community dialogue that was attended by the ZHRC Chairperson, Elasto Mugwadi, community members and other local level stakeholders.
To date, MACRAD has established five peace clubs that are responsible for identifying and discussing socio-economic conflicts affecting them and to develop possible solutions where possible. The peace clubs also carry out conflict mapping and stakeholder analysis exercises and document conflict issues arising in the community. The peace clubs have mobilised the Shangaan community to petition the Chiredzi Rural District Council to halt the evictions and have since started consultations with the community on the way forward.
The intervention by MACRAD is one among many interventions by Heal Zimbabwe that allows for local level conversations on pertinent issues affecting communities. Such intervention help build peaceful and socially cohesive communities.