Midlands State University’s Tugwi Mukosi Multidisciplinary Research Institute (TMMRI) in collaboration with Centre for Conflict Management Transformation (CCMT) held a one-day Development Induced Relocation (DIR) Symposium. The symposium was held on the 28th of November 2019 at the University’s Zvishavane Campus, under the theme; Development Induced Relocations: Zimbabwean experiences and resettlement policy options.
The Tugwi Mukosi Multidisciplinary Research Institute’s Acting Director, Dr F Muromo said the DIR Symposium sought to ignite public sympathy, which is critical in triggering policy change on a number of key issues. The symposium was also an opportunity for participants to discuss development-induced displacements; share worldwide communities’ relocation experiences with colleagues from CCMT, government ministries and other local universities as well as receive feedback on policy and legislative frameworks from policymakers.
In his welcome remarks, the Midlands State University Dean of Engineering and Geosciences Dr A. Mamuse, underscored the importance of such dialogue in the development and accomplishment of national goals. Dr Mamuse said, it is crucial for policymakers to take cognizance of the importance of inclusion of the affected people before implementation of developmental projects.
‘My word to all of you present is that we must embrace the role of citizens as partners instead of side-lining them. They must have a key role to play in the accomplishment of national goals,’ he said.
Chief Ngungubane who was also present called for consultations of communities before relocations. He also highlighted the need to realign government policy in order to have a standardised home-based development induced relocation framework.
In a powerful presentation on Mega Dam Projects and the Socio-Economic Exclusion of Women in Zimbabwe, 1955-2018 by an expert in development-induced spatial dislocations, Dr Terrence Mashingaidze, who is also the Dean of Arts, underscored the need for clear relocation plans and compensation, before people are displaced so as to ensure sustainable development for all.
‘Development has triggered massive displacements worldwide but however, oftentimes there is lack of compensation and poor relocation systems… and in most cases, there are unequal/skewed power relations between governments and potential displacees or project impacted people (PIP)s.
‘There is also the principle of eminent domain that is the power of the government to take private property and convert it to public use. States are generally motivated by the ‘greater good’ imperative hence people in the rural areas live under insecure land ownership regimes like the Communal Lands Act in Zimbabwe’, he said.
Dr Mashingaidze also made reference to Article 10 (2) of the Kampala Convention which requires states to ensure that persons likely to be displaced be engaged before relocation.
During the symposium, various speakers shared a wide range of factors that affect communities whenever they are relocated to pave way for developmental projects. Many times, displacees are either not compensated for their losses or are given too little. Participants called for clear compensation policies and processes as well as full compensation for displaces, which has to be paid before the relocation process.
The symposium immensely benefited from the participation of senior academics and experts in the field. Among the speakers were; Chief Ngungumbane, Dr F. Muromo (TMMRI), Mr S. Vengesai (CCMT), Mr C. Maseva (IDBZ), Mr J. Bamu (ZLHR), Mr Chaeruka (UZ) and Mr S. Mberi (ZiLAN).