The soldiers and police deployed by the government ostensibly to relocate livestock belonging to flood victims, are allegedly force-marching villagers out of the area to clear the way for the dam construction.
Despite the presence of the army, some villagers have vowed to stay put, arguing that they will only leave the area after receiving compensation from the state. Some are claiming they have been beaten up and threatened with death for refusing to leave.
“We are not at war and we are asking why the government deployed these troops,” said one villager. “The soldiers have brought more harm than good. When we saw them, we thought they were going to help us relocate our livestock, but to our surprise they are beating us up and harassing innocent civilians.
The villagers’ spokesperson said they were not resisting relocation but were simply demanding compensation from the state before they left. “Some people here were given huge sums of money as compensation so we are saying we should also get that money.
“I have no money to start a new life and where does the state expect me to get the cash to construct new houses let alone send the children to school?” he said.
Masvingo provincial administrator Felix Chikovo confirmed the deployment of the army and police. He dismissed reports by the villagers that the uniformed forces were harassing them.
“Soldiers and policemen deployed in the area are only assisting in the relocation of livestock and anyone intimidated or harassed by them should report to us,” said Chikovo. “It is a lie by villagers that they are being harassed.”
Chikovo however confirmed that, despite the dangers posed by the floods, some families were still refusing to be relocated.
The villagers also claimed that hundreds of their livestock had gone missing since the security forces arrived in the area.
Those that still have animals are selling them for a song. A chicken is going for as little as $1 and goats for less than $20 each.
The government has so far relocated about 1,600 people and at least 4,000 are still waiting to be moved.
Heavy floods hit Masvingo province this rainy season resulting in hundreds of homes along the Tokwe Mukosi dam basin being submerged in water. Thousands of people were displaced. Women, the elderly and small children were the most affected.
The government has since declared the Tokwe Mukosi humanitarian crisis a national disaster. Thousands of displaced people are staying at Chingwizi area in the Nuanetsi ranch awaiting proper allocation of farming plots.
Aid for the flood victims has been pouring in, but there are fears that the donated goods might be abused. Masvingo provincial affairs minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti has assured the nation that all the donated goods would be accounted for.Post published in: News