2021 INDEPENDENCE DAY STATEMENT: NEW WAVE OF LAND DISPOSSESSION AGAINST VALUES OF THE LIBERATION STRUGGLE

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Today Zimbabwe commemorates its 41st independence anniversary and this year, the celebrations are happening amidst grinding poverty afflicting the citizens despite the abundance of natural resources in the country. The country also has high unemployment levels, a high death rate owing to a collapsed health delivery system; and the dearth of social and family fabric due to economic and politically-induced separation of households.

CNRG notes with concern the unrestrained plunder of Zimbabwe’s mineral resources that are smuggled to other countries by those who should be leading in nation-building and development. We bemoan the culture of corruption and impunity that has engulfed the country’s natural resources sector, especial the mining sector. Cartels linked to politicians have developed around our wildlife, timber, gold and diamonds. Corruption and organized crime remain the hallmark of extractive industries in Zimbabwe. The mining sector alone can generate revenues in excess of $10 billion annually if there was patriotic governance of our natural resources.

CNRG is taken aback by the new wave of land dispossessions to pave way for extractive projects. The dispossessions bring back painful memories of oppression by the colonial settler regime which forced blacks out of their fertile and rich lands. Just like the colonial regime, the Government of Zimbabwe is using unconstitutional means like Special Grants and Statutory Instruments to drive Zimbabweans off their land, with the most prominent and recent cases being the Chilonga and Dinde cases. We note with concern that resource-rich communities are increasingly getting militarized, securitized and politicized. Places like Marange, Dinde and Chilonga bear testimony to how natural resource endowment is attracting the might of the State leading to gross human rights abuses, resource plunder and insecurity.  Perpetrators of human rights abuses and organized crime enjoy impunity.

The manner government is facilitating land grabbing and resource looting is against the aspirations and values of the liberation struggle which saw rural Zimbabweans providing supplies and shelter to the guerrilla fighters. About 41 years after Zimbabwe gained her independence, citizens from communal land areas do not enjoy the independence as they leave in fear of land dispossession.  We also call upon the courts to defend the weak and vulnerable, whose land rights are being trampled by the rich and politically powerful

We call on Zimbabweans to make the 18th of April a day of deep reflection and conversation on what needs to be done to ensure Zimbabweans are united in their diversity towards a common vision, and not just a day for self-congratulatory speeches. 

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