MIHR threatens govt with litigation

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BY IRENE MOYO
THE Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) has threatened to sue the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) and the Agriculture, Lands, Water, Fisheries and Rural Resettlement ministry for failing to respond to its request for the Lubimbi villagers relocation master plan.

Lubimbi villagers, in Binga, are set to be displaced to make way for the Gwayi-Shangani Dam, already under construction.

But they are yet to be told of the relocation modalities.

The MIHR fears that, given government’s record of failure to adequately compensate communities affected by displacements, if there is no communication on the relocation plan, the affected villagers could end up being stranded if the dam’s water levels rise during the approaching rainy season.

Government says it has allocated US$2 million to relocate the villagers, but has not communicated how, when and where the villagers would be relocated.

MIHR co-ordinator Khumbulani Maphosa told Southern Eye that the Agriculture ministry had not yet responded to its request made in June for the displacement plan which the ministry said it had.

Maphosa indicated that if they do not get the response soon, the MIHR would take government and ZMC to court over failure to access information as provided for under the Freedom of Information Act, which stipulates that requested information should be provided within 21 days.

“We are requesting the plan because we want to look at the displacement of these people with a closer eye. We really want to see what they are proposing and how the dam construction is going to be of benefit to the Lubimbi villagers.

“We submitted the forms on June 3 and they have not responded to us. But according to the Freedom of Information Act, government is supposed to respond to our information request within 21 days. We expect to get the response by next week. Failure to do so will result in us taking the litigation route,” Maphosa said.

MIHR’s request is in the interest of public accountability to protect people’s rights as stipulated in section 62(1) and (2) of the Constitution.

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