Commission of inquiry needed at Chingwizi

We add our voice to the international calls for government to investigate circumstances leading to devastating floods at Tokwe-Mukosi Dam and take action against those responsible if indeed they were deliberately induced to force villagers to work on a nearby farm owned by Zanu (PF).

Paul Bogaert
Paul Bogaert

We are getting extremely disturbing reports of corruption from those in the camp, while a new report by Human Rights Watch quotes residents alleging that government deliberately let the water out of the dam to “fix” residents of communities in the vicinity who were resisting relocation without compensation.

There are also allegations that some Zanu (PF) officials have taken advantage of the flood victims, forcing them to go and work as slave labourers on farmland linked to the party. In addition, we have been told that some officials diverted aid that was meant to benefit the victims, most of whom are still struggling to get adequate food and still live in tents, despite concerted efforts by the humanitarian community to make their life easier.

These allegations are shocking, to say the least. We hope they are not true – but they have been made and only a transparent enquiry can address them. We urge the government to launch a neutral commission of inquiry that comprises public, corporate and humanitarian sector representatives.

They should carry out an audit of how the aid given to Chingwizi was distributed, establish how exactly the floods occurred and find out what is happening to the victims and their families. Are they really being used as slaves on farms?

The investigations must also look into the current plight of the displaced families, to find out what has kept them in the holding camp for so long. So far, we have been told that they have been offered one hectare each instead of the promised four.

What happened to the land that had been designated for the resettlement of the victims? Why is there no money to compensate them? Was it there in the first place? What plans are there to speedily solve their problems? Without this investigation, Chingwizi will easily degenerate into another misery-filled, permanent refugee camp.

Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga

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