HomeNewsChingwizi villagers to be moved again

Chingwizi villagers to be moved again


MASVINGO — Government is reportedly planning to relocate 18 000 victims of the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam floods from their new-found home at Nuanetsi Ranch in Mwenezi to Chiumburu Farm in Chiredzi to pave way for business magnate Billy Rautenbach’s ethanol project.

By Tatenda Chitagu

Sources privy to the development told NewsDay yesterday said the move was necessitated by the villagers’ demands for bigger farming plots.

The villagers were initially hurriedly moved from Masvingo South and Chivi communal lands in the dam basin after floods hit the area in February last year to Chingwizi Transit Camp in Nuanetsi after government declared the floods a national disaster.

They then spent six months at the overcrowded camp and were later allocated one-hectare plots, 40km away.

However, some of the families reluctantly took up the offer while the majority refused to move demanding bigger plots.

Sources, however, expressed fear that the land available at Chiumburu Farm might not be able to accommodate all the families.

Although Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa could not comment as she said she was in meetings, government sources insisted that Rautenbach was behind the relocation programme.

“Government is simply hiding behind a finger by trying to be ‘humane’, saying that the villagers need bigger plots and a better place. The truth of the matter is that they were settled on the part where the ethanol project was long identified, so they have to clear space,” the source said.

Rautenbach’s Zimbabwe Bio-Energy (ZBE) company had long back proposed to build an ethanol plant in Mwenezi — way before the Chisumbanje one — but was allegedly being blocked by a rival faction which was in the provincial structures of government and Zanu PF then.

Between 2007 and 2008, ZBE even built a few sample houses where some villagers from Nuanetsi Ranch were to be resettled to pave way for the ethanol project, but there was no water to sustain the project as Tokwe-Mukosi Dam had not yet been completed then.

Sources added that Rautenbach, who is believed to have strong links to a Zanu PF faction allegedly headed by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, had pledged to fund the relocation exercise.

“The villagers were merely used as political pawns after they were resettled on a site for the project. Then (Masvingo) Provincial Affairs minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, linked to fired Vice-President Joice Mujuru, was allegedly blocking the project by taking people in Nuanetsi,” another source said.
The source added: “Now that Mahofa is the new Provincial Affairs minister, the project can go ahead, meaning all the hurdles — like the villagers — have to be cleared for Rautenbach.”
Both Bhasikiti and ZBE public relations officer Lillian Muungani could not be reached for comment.

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