CLOSE to 300 families are likely to be displaced by the Gwayi-Shangani Dam project, with plans to resettle them on alternative land at an advanced stage.
BY TINASHE MUNGAZI
Briefing Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs minister Richard Moyo during a tour of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam project last week, Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) assistant resident engineer Brian Matarura said the process of identifying villagers who would be affected by the project was almost complete.
“Honourable minister, I would like to report to you that the process of identifying the affected homesteads is at 70% and we are targeting to finish the exercise of relocation by early next year,” Matarura said.
“We have so far identified 251 homesteads that will need to be relocated and have since engaged the ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement to assist in that regard. We have been working with village heads to identify homesteads that are going to be affected.”
He said though the number could rise during the identification process, it was not likely to affect their plans, unlike what was experienced during the construction of the Tugwi-Mukosi Dam in Masvingo, where over 1 000 families were displaced.
The displaced villagers in Masvingo were dumped at Chingwizi camp, which had no basic amenities and are yet to be compensated.
Government, realising the disease outbreaks, resettled the displaced families in the inhabitable Nuanetsi Ranch — which houses a conservancy — on one-hectare plots after six months against their wishes.
The villagers wanted four hectares each instead.
Matarura said: “The number of people who might be displaced may rise since we are still consulting with village heads from both Hwange and Binga. However, we are working with the relevant ministry to ensure that modalities are in place to deal with such eventualities.”
Once the 72-metre dam wall is complete, it is going to flood areas where over 300 households have called home, resulting in their relocation.
The project, which was mooted under the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Trust, is expected to be complete by December 2019.
However, its take-off has been delayed by various factors that include foreign currency shortage, budgetary allocation constraints from Treasury, flooding of work area as well as delay in paying the contractor.
Bulawayo province, Hwange, Lupane and Binga districts are going to benefit from the project through establishment of irrigation schemes, water provision, employment and eco-tourism, including provision of a small hydro power station.
The dam is being built by China International Water and Electric Corporation (Pvt) Ltd at a cost of $121 million.
However, only $23,3 million has been allocated in the 2018 National Budget against a requirement of $52 million to meet the 2018 target.
Moyo said government was seized with the completion of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam and Zimbawe Power Company stage 7 and 8 expansion projects.