By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
30 April 2014
Calm has returned to Chingwizi transit camp following violent attacks that took place there two weekends ago.
The attacks were attributed to a disgruntled group who were not happy that some of their fellow flood victims were taking up the government’s offer of 1 hectare plots.
The villagers say the government promised each of the families 4 hectares, plus $4,000 as compensation for lost homes and property but was now reneging.
Tired of the crammed unhygienic conditions at Chingwizi, some families are said to have taken up the smaller plots of land, which angered some people.
In an update to SW Radio Africa, flood victim Frank Masakadze said the displaced families had set up a committee to help resolve the differences.
Masakadze said that very few villagers were leaving the camp, adding that some women last week staged a roadside protest against the government’s reluctance to meet its obligations to the desperate families.
He said placard-waving women demonstrated at Ngundu, along the Beitbridge-Harare road, expressing their displeasure at what they said was the betrayal by the State.
“We hope that the pressure we are trying to put on the government will force them to reconsider their decision to resettle us on these 1 hectare plots.
“What is even more disappointing to us is the failure to give us financial compensation,” Masakadze added.
Some of the posters were denouncing Provincial Affairs Minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, who last week reportedly had to run for dear life after angry villagers attacked him and pelted him with stones.
The families accuse the ZANU PF minister of delaying their compensation payment and also of trying to force them to move to the smaller plots.
Earlier this month the MDC-T party said Bhasikiti had barred its leader Morgan Tsvangirai from visiting and donating to the flood victims.
Masakadze said life at the camp was difficult and the flood victims had resigned themselves to the hardships.
“Things are tough for us here. We thought we would be here for a short period of time and then be resettled permanently but that is not happening.
“We have lost our livestock, our goats, chickens and cattle are disappearing every day. Grazing land is becoming scarce because we are overcrowded and all we want is for the government to give us the resources they promised so we can rebuild our lives,” Masakadze added.
The government was forced to declare the flooding at Tokwe-Mukosi a state of disaster after thousands of villagers were rendered homeless, paving way for the evacuation process.
The villagers and most observers have criticised the government for its slow and shambolic response which saw most villagers losing property and being ferried using pushcarts.