By Tichaona Sibanda
About 4,500 families are requesting compensation to be relocated from the Tokwe-Mukosi dam area in Masvingo, a field officer working with the villagers said on Tuesday.
Admire Mashenjere, from the Tokwe-Mukosi Rehabilitation and Resettlement Trust, said villagers had agreed that $5,000 in compensation would be enough to minimise their losses. But it is unlikely the government will agree with the villages, as $5,000 for each of the 4,500 families, totals over $22 million.
Mashenjere told our weekly Speak Out Padare program that villagers are being relocated to Chingwizi in Mwenezi, an area that falls under region 5 and is designated for cattle ranching. Although government had in the past year promised to construct an irrigation scheme in the area, nothing has been done, amid worries the villagers have been left to fend for themselves in an arid area.
‘Last year, government told us that by the time we relocate from the basin to Mwenezi there will be schools and clinics to cater for us, but there is nothing, just tents put up for the villagers with no running water,’ Mashenje said.
Government was forced to move the villagers in haste because of fears the dam will burst after torrential rains pounded the province and President Robert Mugabe declared the area a state disaster.
Following cracks to the dam wall there were fears it would breach, threatening to unleash a wall of water into neighbouring villages and sweep away thousands of people in its path.
However the government on Sunday urged the public not to panic as the issue can be resolved. Minister of Water Resources Saviour Kasukuwere said engineers were working flat out trying to reinforce the wall, although he admitted the situation was ‘challenging.’
Mashenjere said he visited the dam site on Monday and was assured by the engineers that the dam wall will hold, despite massive pressure from the rain water that has been falling countrywide. ‘The engineers told us they are drilling additional shafts to release water pressure from the dam before they can start reinforcing the dam wall,’ he said.
The saga of the Tokwe-Mukosi dam has been one of corruption and incompetence and, if not for that, the dam would have been finished a long time ago and this crisis would never have happened. SW Radio Africa