IT never rains, but pours for the over 3 000 Chivi families who were relocated to Chingwizi Transit Camp in 2014 to pave way for the construction of Tugwi-Mukosi Dam in Masvingo, since a bio-energy company with business interests in the area is now seeking to have them further evicted.
Government availed one-hectare plots to the families on a portion of Naunetsi Ranch in the arid Mwenzei district, and compensation money, as part of the relocation deal.
The ranch is owned by Zimbabwe Bio Energy (ZBE), a company owned by millionaire businessman Billy Rautenbach.
However, five years down the line, the firm now wants the beleaguered families further moved from the property.
Mwenezi district administrator Rosemary Chingwe said the future of the families was now uncertain as the company had upped its eviction bid.
She told Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Ezra Chadzamira when he visited the area recently that there was need to finalise the settlement of the families to enable them to start building permanent infrastructures at their plots.
“Relational issues with ZBE are not cordial. ZBE is proposing that the 2 713 households in Chingwizi should be moved out to pave way for their ethanol plant,” Chingwe said.
“The company is currently fencing out all its areas, leaving the households without grazing area, and the company has also blocked the families from using dip tanks as well as access to water.”
Chingwe said the situation was so dire for the families, as they were now surviving on only 35 boreholes, which pump salty water and not potable for human consumption.
Chadzamira had no kind words for Rautenbach, whom he said was working against the spirit of the President Emmerson Mnangagwa-led administration.
He likened the company’s actions to that of Rhodesia, where black Africans were treated as second class citizens. He then gave the company a two-week ultimatum to open the grazing area and allow the villagers to have access to water in the ranch.