The construction of Tokwe-Murkosi Dam has put government in sixes and sevens over where to relocate the 6 000 villagers settled in its hinterland.
This follows reports that Masvingo province has run out of land for resettlement purposes.
Treasury recently set aside $20 million for the resumption of the construction of what will become the country’s biggest inland water body on completion after Lake Mutirikwi.
Already, the government has set itself on a collision course with the villagers who are refusing to vacate the area and be resettled elsewhere, arguing they also wanted to benefit from the dam.
Masvingo provincial governor Titus Maluleke yesterday said the affected villagers might be relocated outside the province.
“We have set up a task force which will be meeting next week over that issue. We are looking for space in Masvingo and elsewhere. This means that the villagers can be resettled in or outside Masvingo depending on where we get the land,” he said.
Maluleke said the government would also approach new farmers who invaded formerly white-owned commercial farms to donate some land, as well as conservancies.
“This is a national project that will benefit the nation, just like what happened in the Chiadzwa diamond fields. So, it should be given priority.
“We are desperate. We will look for land from farms which have been allocated to the new farmers. Probably, we can have some extra hectarage here and there that can be consolidated to settle some few hundreds,” he said.
Maluleke said government would also probe conservancy owners to see if they could be compelled to shed off part of their land for the affected villagers.
“We will look for land wherever possible, including conservancies. We will be making consultations with the relevant ministry,” he said.
If completed, Tokwe-Murkosi Dam, whose construction stopped 10 years ago due to lack of funds, is expected to address Masvingo province’s water woes and provide an alternative water body for irrigation.
The dam is being constructed at the confluence of Tokwe and Murkosi rivers.