A row is simmering in Chisumbanje, as it emerged that there are plans to dismantle a Cabinet appointed committee, tasked with ensuring communication between the local community and the developers of the ethanol plant.
The Standard was told yesterday that there are plans to weaken the District Ethanol Project Implementation Committee (Depic) -- which is an all stakeholders committee formed last year to resolve the crisis at the ethanol plant that had stopped production in 2011, after reaching its holding capacity and a slow uptake of the ethanol.
During his tour of the ethanol project on Friday, Energy and Power Development minister Dzikamai Mavhaire said the local MP, councillor and traditional leaders should take the concerns of the community. This has riled Depic, with its spokesperson Claris Madhuku saying it would "fight to the bitter end".
Madhuku said Mavhaire could have been misled by politicians who wanted to get a grip on the ethanol project.
"Depic is a committee instituted by cabinet. Its dissolution must be addressed at that [cabinet] level," he said.
Depic is composed of traditional chiefs, legislator for the area, headmen, district administrator, councillors, police, members of the President's office and community representatives, among others.
Madhuku said the community would fight the dissolution of Depic, as its "absence means more problems for everyone".
He accused Chipinge South legislator Enock Porusingazi of having misled Mavhaire.
Porusingazi said yesterday that the old organisation was imposed on the villagers and was pursuing a different agenda.
"This is a succession story where we have taken over. I also have my ideas, but the ultimate thing is to get the project running," he said.
Porusingazi said his inclusion in the team overseeing the project was because he could not be left out of an investment happening in his constituency.
"I am the one who represents that project in parliament. How will I talk about it if I am not on the inside?" he said.
Porusingazi said they were the leadership on the ground and Depic had created unnecessary bureaucracy.
"What committee do you want in a democratic organisation in Zimbabwe? You have an elected MP, councillor and community represented by the chief. On top of that, you add government structures -- district administrator and Arex people," he said.
He said what was excluded were, "activists who are not properly constituted", in an apparent reference to Madhuku.
Porusingazi said it was only a change of name but they are pursuing the same structure.
When told that Depic had thawed the frosty relations and should have been allowed to run, Porusingazi said, "Allowing that to happen will end up having Elton Mangoma [former minister of Energy] running it again".
He said people who are against his mandate to drive the project were irrelevant from the outset.
"Who are they lobbying for? The community chose their chief and headmen. There is no community that can go and look for PYD [Platform Youth Development Trust]," the legislator said.
Madhuku is a director of PYD.
Madhuku said Porusingazi had sought Mavhaire's help to stamp his authority on the community and project to secure votes in the next election.
"He [Porusingazi] won't stop us. Until the President speaks, we will remain as Depic," Madhuku said.
Porusingazi said he wanted another term as MP "but you must also understand that if I mess up with that project, I may not achieve that [another term]".