A POLICE post at Chingwizi holding camp went up in smoke in the early hours of Wednesday in a suspected arson attack as anger mounts over the government’s failure to compensate and improve living conditions of the more than 18 000 villagers resident in the amp.
About $9 million is needed to compensate villagers displaced by the Tokwe-Mukorsi Dam floods.
They were resisting being moved to one hectare plots a few kilometres from Chingwizi without compensation.
Only 400 villagers have adhered to the government’s calls to de-congest the camp by voluntarily moving to the new settlement.
Police details were picking up pieces of what used to be their base and barred journalists from taking pictures.
Masvingo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Charity Mazula could not be reached for comment as her mobile phone rang unanswered, but police sources said they suspected an arson attack by angry villagers.
“It is not clear yet, but we suspect sabotage by the angry villagers. However, the official explanation is that a candle caused the fire,” a police officer said on condition of anonymity.
The living conditions in the overcrowded camp were dire and have been worsened by a government food ban in a bid to force the villagers to move out of the camp.
Several attempts to engage the villagers have hit a snag.
Last month, a high-powered delegation of 10 ministers was left with egg on their faces after being booed and heckled, forcing a hasty retreat.