By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
3 June 2014
Government has resorted to using underhand tactics to force the Tokwe-Mukosi flood victims to move away from the Chingwizi transit camp, by denying them food aid.
A storage facility that contained donated food for the victims was dismantled by soldiers last week and re-erected 17 kilometres away from the transit camp.
Over 3,500 families are based at the Chingwizi camp after they were relocated there from the Tokwe-Mukosi area by government in February. Following heavy rains earlier this year in Masvingo’s Chivi district, there were floods that forced the government to declare it a disaster area.
Admire Mashenjere, a field officer with the Tokwe-Mukosi Rehabilitation and Resettlement Trust, which represents families affected by the dam and advocates for their rights, said government stopped giving food aid to the victims last month.
Mashenjere told us on Tuesday that it’s a full month since government stopped all food aid being distributed to the flood victims.
‘The intention is to force us to move and resettle on one-hectare pieces of land. We were promised four-hectares of land per family but this has not materialised and additionally most of the victims have not been compensated yet,’ Mashenjere said.
He said while they may understand that government has no money to compensate them as yet, there was no need for victims to be denied food aid from donors. Mashenjere said this practice infringed on their basic human rights and called upon the government to reconsider their decision.
‘We have had through rumours that they want us moved to new site because we may be used as cheap labour for an ethanol plant project. We want to be explicitly clear that all we want is land to start our new lives as some of us have qualifications that can sustain us in life,’ he said.
The site of the new food storage facility in Mwenezi is a stones throw away from a sugar cane plantation owned by controversial businessman Billy Rautenbach. Sugar cane is used for ethanol production.