Zimbabwe: Villagers face eviction to make way for biofuel cultivation

source: SW Radio Africa
By Tichaona Sibanda
30 March 2010

The construction of a US$600 million ethanol plant in Chisumbanje, Manicaland province has ignited a storm of protests and claims that it could result in thousands of families being evicted from the area.

The plant, which government says will provide the country with 80 percent of it’s ethanol needs, is being built on land currently owned by the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA). The ethanol will be created from sugarcane grown in Arda Chisumbanje and Arda Middle Sabi. Clouds of uncertainty now hang over the welfare of over 250 000 villagers living along the vast Sabi river.

Government entered into the deal with controversial businessman Billy Rautenbach and his companies Macdom Pvt (Ltd) and Ratings Investment.

The 51 year-old Rautenbach is a multimillionaire Zimbabwe businessman well known for his aggressive business tactics. He is also closely linked to Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF. He was added to the EU targetted sanctions list in January 2008, and the US targetted sanctions towards the end of 2008 for his alleged involvement with the former ruling regime. It is alleged he has aided ZANU PF financially and the deals have been mutually beneficial. Mugabe, grateful for financial support, often returns favours to Rautenbach by granting him dubious and [continue reading]

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