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Batoka project to displace villagers

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MATABELELAND North governor Thokozile Mathuthu has warned villagers living near the site of the proposed Batoka hydro-electricity project that they may be relocated soon to create space for the joint power generation initiative between Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Report by Nduduzo Tshuma

“Naturally if there is such a project, people will be moved elsewhere,” she told NewsDay in an interview.

“The project will need space since there will be people working there and equipment to be installed.”

But Mathuthu said she was not yet aware of the number of villagers to be moved.

“I will need to find out the hectarage of the project,” she said.
“The hectarage will determine how many homesteads will need to be moved and resettled elsewhere.

“The villagers will be moved as soon as the project starts.
“That (details) we will be advised by the ones behind the project as you know I am not the one running it.”

Energy and Power Development minister Elton Mangoma, Finance minister Tendai Biti and Attorney-General Johannes Tomana met their Zambian counterparts in Victoria Falls in January this year to discuss the power project. In December last year, the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) invited bids from prospective developers on a build-operate-transfer basis for the project expected to cost $4 billion.

ZRA is jointly owned by the Zimbabwean and Zambian governments and is responsible for Kariba Dam and other resources in the Zambezi River.

The Batoka project includes the construction of a dam and a hydro-power plant on the Zambezi River and has the potential of generating 1 600MW to be shared by the two countries.

Zimbabwe and Zambia signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly undertake the Batoka hydro-power project in April 2012.

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