THE ghost of 18 000 Tokwe-Mukosi flood victims dumped in the inhabitable Chingwizi Ranch and unfairly treated by government lurks over former Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti in Mwenezi East constituency where he will be representing the MDC Alliance in the July 30 polls.
BY TATENDA CHITAGU
Bhasikiti was the main enforcer of then President Robert Mugabe’s disastrous policies on the flood survivors, some of whom were forcibly ejected from the dam flood basin by soldiers without compensation four years ago.
Initially, they were temporarily sheltered in a refugee camp in small tents they shared with their children before they were again forcibly moved to another part of Chingwizi where they are facing food shortages. They lost everything they had worked for, including property, livestock and other sentimental valuables and were resettled in Chingwizi, where there were no social amenities and they face water shortages.
Bhasikiti, along with many Zanu PF bigwigs, was later fired from the party for hobnobbing with axed Vice-President Joice Mujuru in 2015.
During his tenure, Bhasikiti was twice chased away by angry villagers, who wanted government to compensate them first before they could be moved for the second time.
In May 2014, Bhasikiti, who was among 10 ministers who came to convince the villagers to move to one-hectare plots allocated to them against their wishes, had to leave in a huff after he was heckled and booed.
Later in the same year, Bhasikiti went back and told the villagers that money meant for their compensation was diverted to pay teachers. This angered the villagers who defied the heavy police presence and bayed for his blood for not prioritising them. Bhasikiti had to be whisked away by security details as the villagers wanted to assault him.
The villagers were then assaulted by a joint crack team of soldiers and police and had their tents burnt, to force them to move to the one-hectare plots after they torched a police truck. 300 of them were arrested but only six were tried and three were convicted over public violence, but are challenging the convictions.
All this, some analysts say, weighs against Bhasikiti in Mwenezi East, where the 3 000 families form the greater part of the voters in the constituency. However, other analysts argue that Bhasikiti was merely a messenger and the policies were not his but those of ex president Robert Mugabe.
Asked if this sad past would not dent his prospects in the election, Bhasikiti pulled a brave face yesterday, saying he was engaging the enraged villagers and pleading for their vote.
“They know the truth…I have started engaging them and yesterday I was with them. They are tired of being used and abused by Zanu PF and they have been excited by a wave of change that is sweeping across the country under the MDC Alliance led by incoming president Nelson Chamisa,” Bhasikiti said.
Bhasikiti will battle it out with incumbent Zanu PF legislator, Joosby Omar, Josiah Mashora of ZIPP, and Turner Mhango of Free Zim Congress.