Chiredzi villagers uproot vetiver grass

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MIRROR REPORTER

CHIREDZI – The Environment Management Agency (EMA) is concerned with villagers in Guluju, Ward 13 underChief Tshovani who are uprooting vetiver, a special grass being planted in the area to stop soil erosion.

Vetiver is a densely tufted grass brought from Hippo Valley which has already been planted over an area of 800 hectares to stop soil erosion. The plant is good for stopping soil erosion because of its qualities which include high resistance to pests and diseases. 

The project is being financially supported by Malilangwe Trust who also seconded a staffer Norman Mugeveza who is supervising the project.

EMA started the vetiver project in 2019 and Chiredzi is the first district where the project is being implemented in Zimbabwe. The project has so far covered close to 800 hectares. EMA expects to spread the project throughout the country.

On Wednesday last week, worried Government officials including EMA District Officer, Peter Mugodhi went to Chief Tshovani to report villagers who are uprooting the grass. Chief Tshovani told the Government officials to have anyone sabotaging the project arrested because according to him, there were many meetings where people were told about the project and ‘everyone’ agreed on its importance and implementation.

It is understood that the villagers are uprooting the grass because they think that Government has plans to eventually evict them from the area and take over their land.

Former Ward 22 councillor Misheck Komondela has been accused of influencing villagers against the project. Komondela could not be reached for a comment. 

The most affected areas is Guluju where villagers are said to have uprooted and destroyed the vetiver grass. 

“This is something which EMA is encouraging all the districts to do in order to reduce soil erosion. The project started here in Chiredzi and in our case we are lucky that Malilangwe Trust pledge is funding the planting of the grass,” said Mugodhi.

The Mirror is in possession of a video in which villagers are uprooting the grass.

“Our fear is that we might have the same predicament like what befall the people of Chilonga who are about to lose their land to grass farming, maybe this is the same grass who knows? Probably one day we will wake up and realise that these people have taken our land” said Lucas Mashavele, one of the villagers.

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