Desperate villagers accuse Trust

Relocated villagers here have accused the Arda Transau Relocation Development Trust of demanding money under the pretext that it will help them get compensation.

“This organisation is demanding money from us under the pretext that it will help us. They have asked us to contribute up to $5 a month to enable the chairman and the organisation to run errands on our behalf.

“If we cannot provide the money, they demand that we have to contribute buckets of maize. But where do they think we can get these things? In any case, we have not seen any progress and we think that the money is being diverted for personal use,” said one of the villagers.

She said she had contributed $17 since the beginning of the year but had now been told to increase it to $22. “The money might sound little, but it is difficult to get a dollar here. If all the thousands of people in Marange were to give them a dollar each, that means they would end up with thousands of dollars,” she added.

Cephas Gwaigwai, the chairman, is a former policeman. He admitted that some villagers had made contributions, but dismissed them as paltry.

“We are not demanding; people who contributed have done so voluntarily. But there is not much to talk about. Claims that we are forcing people to contribute are from rebels who are being used by a rival organisation. In fact, I have also used my own money to make sure that things happen,” said Gwaigwai.

He insisted that his organisation was working to develop Arda Transau, saying they had already started floor polish making and poultry projects to benefit the local community.

Other villagers said ATRDT was taking the money under the guise that it would be used to travel, pay lawyers and communicate, while the organisation reportedly asked them to avail two buckets of maize each so that it could sell it and buy cooking oil from Beira in Mozambique where the commodity is cheaper.

“They are even saying those with goats or cattle must surrender them to make our lives better, but this could just be a way of taking advantage of us,” said another villager.

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