TOKWE-MUKOSI flood victims who, for the last three years, felt abandoned following the flood disaster that struck their community, had pinned their hopes on President Robert Mugabe’s visit on Thursday, but were left disappointed once again.
Comment: NewsDay Editor
Following the tragedy which was declared a national disaster after many families lost their property and livestock, Mugabe never paid a visit to the area. For three years, the families had to be crammed into tents at Nuanetsi Ranch, where they have been surviving on handouts as their fields had also been swept away.
Mugabe’s visit to commission the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam provided them a glimmer of hope that the country’s chief executive officer, having stepped into their community for the first time since the tragedy struck, was going to at least ensure that their concerns would be urgently addressed and expedite the process.
But in typical bureaucratic conduct, Mugabe pushed the matter, of ensuring the villagers at least secured plots within the dam’s lucrative vicinity to Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa’s plate, urging her to lobby the government in what is obviously going to be yet another long-winding process of red tape.
The villagers’ request for irrigation plots near the dam would have ensured that the villagers had food security and could grow their own food rather than continue depending on the government and the civil sector, itself hamstrung by donor fatigue.
Understandably the villagers, drawn from Chikombedzi, Mwenezi, Gutu, Zaka and Bikita, felt short-changed because, under the circumstances, that was not what they were expecting. Most shockingly, indeed, was the dire poverty of his speech regarding their concerns, particularly their quest for irrigation land.
Quite unfortunate, Mahofa’s plea on behalf of the 18 000 flood victims did not attract the urgency and priority it deserves. It is not surprising that the villagers were rightly shocked by the trivialisation of their tragedy and lack of concern regarding their welfare and livelihoods. This is quite contrary to one of the Zanu PF government’s yesteryear slogans, “A government for the people by the people.”
If government is really concerned about the welfare of its citizens during these lean times, then here was the best opportunity to demonstrate that concern. But it was nothing short of just a big yawn. The long-suffering people of Tokwe-Mukosi deserve respite from misfortune’s roll call.