Charamba speaks out on Chingwizi flood victims

THE Chingwizi flood victims are paying the price of allowing themselves to be used “in political football” but nonetheless President Robert Mugabe is concerned about their welfare, his spokesperson George Charamba told Zimbabwe Independent this week.

Wongai Zhangazha

More than 20 000 people were displaced in February last year following heavy flooding along the Tokwe Mukorsi dam basin, but Mugabe has never visited the flood victims.

The victims have been moved to Nuanetsi Ranch in Mwenezi, where they are living under squalid conditions.

Last week, the villagers wrote a petition to Mugabe requesting him to visit them so that he can see the deplorable conditions at their new settlement.

“We write this urgent appeal to you on behalf of 20 000 victims of the Tokwe-Mukorsi floods who have been dumped at Nuanetsi ranch in Mwenezi. We do not have food and we are facing starvation,” the petition reads.

“We feel like people in prison. Your government is treating us like second-class citizens and as if we are people with no rights.”

The villagers complained that the land that they were forced to settle on Nuanetsi Ranch, which they argue is not suitable for farming They are also angry that despite promises, government has failed to compensate them and allocate each family enough land for resettlement.

They were allocated one hectare plots, but are demanding five hectares each.

Charamba said it was the constitutional right for the Tokwe-Mukorsi flood victims to petition Mugabe, but the petition should have come in the proper spirit of confidentiality.

He said: “The President is very much concerned about the welfare of the Tokwe Mukorsi flood victims. It is a matter we discuss a lot in our briefings. The issue of Chingwizi residents was problematic. The residents thought that the NGOs and the political interests would support them. They didn’t know that these people were looking for mileage.

“Even now we see (former Masvingo provincial minister Kudakwashe) Bhasikiti saying that he was the first one to defend the people of Chingwizi when in fact when we once went there with several ministers after being sent by the president, he was booed by the victims of the floods and they didn’t want him. Now they want to get political gain as the People’s First, yet they forget that they were the governors overseeing Chingwizi.

“The victims of the Tokwe Mukorsi floods, like in the past, have been confrontational to government, made unreasonable demands and allowed politicisation of their situation. They should be careful that they will end up being another political football.”

Charamba said although the welfare of the Tokwe-Mukorsi flood victims was important, they should not forget about the major development that has come to Masvingo.

“No one is saying that we are demanding an entitlement of the water from Tokwe Mukorsi which then can be supported by government in the form of a policy that will be implemented. They should not only demand money for compensation which will not take them anywhere,” said Charamba.