BY PRAISEMORE SITHOLE
THE Lubimbi villagers in Binga are resisting government’s move to relocate them from their ancestral land to pave way for the construction of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam, demanding a clear relocation plan.
About 2 422 people will be relocated to pave way for the construction of the giant dam.
The Lubimbi villagers have been living a nomadic way of life after they were initially relocated from their land in the Madilo area between Shangani and Kana rivers in 1945 to create space for the Cold Storage Commission project.
During the construction of the Kariba Dam around 1956, the other group that came from the Sinamatela area was also relocated to facilitate the establishment of the Hwange National Park.
In a letter to the government, the community said it needed clarity on the relocation modalities before relocation takes place.
“While the project brings along a number of benefits at national level and downstream riparian communities, it has its own negatives, especially to the Lubimbi community,” reads the letter.
“The project will see the relocation of 502 families or households. Lubimbi 2 Primary School will be submerged in water, so will be the dip tank. About 60 boreholes will be destroyed; roads and the Shangani Bridge will be destroyed as well as homes, latrines, cattle pens, arable land and grazing land.”
The community added: “Lubimbi High School falls outside the dam catchment. However; there are a significant number of learners from the affected villages whose schooling will be affected. At present, the number stands at 157 (94 girls and 63 boys.
“Communities from Lubimbi 2 will no longer have access to health services as Lubimbi Clinic will no longer be accessible. Arable land totalling 1 506 hectares will be affected or submerged in water. Irrigation schemes totalling 10 hectares will be destroyed. Dams supporting the irrigation schemes will also be destroyed.
“We have a big baobab tree and the hot springs where we perform our cultural rituals and they are likely to be destroyed or rendered inaccessible.
“There is also concern about what will happen to the graves in the affected villages.
“Provincial authorities should come to Lubimbi and address community concerns. The place of relocation should be identified as a matter of urgency so that people can start building in light of the timelines set for dam completion.“
The community said the relocation site should be close to the dam so that the community can also access the water for livelihood projects and domestic use. Land, the community said, should be arable, adequate for grazing, and irrigation.
“Government should start budgeting for relocation as well.
“The current set up where the budget is only focusing on the construction of the dam, neglecting what happens to the affected people is not favourable,” said the community.
Some members of the community accused District Administrator Farai Marinyame of intimidating people, ordering them to leave without telling them where to go.
“He is creating a false impression that we are resisting relocation.
“The Lubimbi people fully support the construction of the dam. We only want to be allocated land similar to our current one in terms of fertility and rainfall pattern.”
“We have already identified the land and are very much prepared to work with professional government officials. We are peaceful but the DA is very decisive and unprofessional.
“We appeal to the government to second officers without questionable behaviour.”
Contacted for comment, Marinyame, however, dismissed the claims.
“Our mission is to tell the people that this project is not going back.
“So, as a community, we need to be prepared and map a way forward in terms of relocations only, not all what they are saying,” said Marinyame.
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