Last update:
2014-04-08

Ethanol Fuel Plant Land Conflict, Zimbabwe

Description:

The Chisumbanje ethanol plant producing agrofuel out of sugarcane started construction around 2009. About 40 000 hectares of land has been earmarked for compulsory acquisition leading to a fierce conflict between the villagers and the company. Some veterans of Zimbabwe’s liberation war have been reportedly paid off to intimidate villagers into submission. About 83 families from Rimirayi and Chinyamukwakwa villages have moved into neighboring Mozambique under pressure from the war veterans. However the ethanol product has failed to make inroads on the market, resulting in the company and some connected politicians demanding that the Ministry of Energy impose mandatory blending of petrol and ethanol. This has hit a brick wall as the responsible ministry has refused to budge. This resulted in the ethanol plant shutting down after stockpiling 10 million litres which exhausted its storage capacity. The community is divided over the project. Others feel the project is a worthwhile development whilst others are fighting for compensation after being forcibly removed from their ancestral homes. The plant was built without an EIA having been conducted. Villagers complain of livestock dying after drinking water contaminated by emissions from the ethanol plant.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Ethanol Fuel Plant Land Conflict, Zimbabwe
Country:Zimbabwe
State or province:Manicaland
Location of conflict:Chisumbanje
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Industrial and Utilities conflicts
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Land acquisition conflicts
Agro-fuels and biomass energy plants
Specific commodities:
Land
Ethanol
Sugar
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

million litres

Project area:60000
Level of Investment:600000000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:500,000 - 700,000
Start of the conflict:2009
Company names or state enterprises:Agricultural Rural Development Authority (ARDA) from Zimbabwe
Rating Investments from Zimbabwe
MACDOM Investments from Zimbabwe
Greenfuel Investments from Zimbabwe
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Ministry of Energy and Power Development, Ministry of Local Government
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Center for Natural Resource Governance, Platform for Youth Development Trust (Chisumbanje)
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Sabotage
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Air pollution, Desertification/Drought, Fires, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Global warming, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsVisible: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution
Potential: Accidents, Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Outcome
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Land demarcation
Migration/displacement
Negotiated alternative solution
Repression
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Violent targeting of activists
Development of alternatives:The mobilizers want the companies with shares in the Ethanol plant to compensate them for loss of land and livelihoods. They also want to participate in the project through employment and other community development projects. Mobilizers have been successful in lobbying government to force the companies to compensate them. The Minister of Energy and Power development Elton Mangoma and the Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara have since demanded that affected families be compensated
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Government is protecting business interests at the expense of the human security needs of the local people. The fact the an EIA was not conducted prior to the project tells of the political nature of the project: It is being implemented outside the law. The powerlessness of the villagers also means they cant successfully defend their environment against pollution by the ethanol project
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Environmental Management Act

The Energy Regulatory Authority Act

Agricultural Land Resettlement Act

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[click to view]

[click to view]

plant workers rough-up Mangoma/news.aspx
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Other comments:The Ethanol Project is one of the national projects that is being patronized by ZANU PF to campaign ahead of elections. The plant is being run by a renowned war veteran Basil Nyabadza. Politicization of the project has undermined the project and divided government with ZANU PF saying the project will reduce fuel imports whilst the MDCT is demanding that villagers be compensated first. This bickering and politicization has weakened the work of the Environmental Management Agency which appear afraid of being caught in the cross fire. Consequently little is being done to monitor the environmental impacts of the project for fear of being labelled saboteurs.
Meta information
Contributor:Farai Maguwu
Last update08/04/2014
Comments
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