BY NIZBERT MOYO BINGA villagers, who are facing eviction from Lubimbi area to pave way for the construction of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam project, have demanded a master plan detailing the relocation process as they do not trust the government.
About 2000 villagers from Lubimbi will be displaced from their ancestral lands.
Government says it has set aside a budget of US$2million for their relocation, but villagers fear they will be dumped in the bushes without any compensation.
Reports say the construction of the dam is now 66.2% complete with plans to complete it by December, but there was no indication when the villagers will be relocated.
Binga’s ward 20 councillor Chrispen Munkuli said government’s relocation plans were shrouded in secrecy.
“They are planning to relocate us to Lusulu, about 100 km away from here.
“We want to see the master plan of the Gwayi Shangani dam concerning our relocation.
“It appears there is something fishy about the whole process,” Munkuli said.
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“They want to move us away from the dam, but there are no details on this matter despite the government promising compensation since we have been affected by the dam construction.”
Munkuli said villagers have identified a piece of land in the Nakanono area, about seven kilometres away from their ancestral land.
This is the third time that the villagers are being evicted.
They were first relocated to Nakanono area about 40 years ago before they were moved to Lubimbi to pave the way for the Cold Storage Commission.
“We wonder if water is going to follow us to Lusulu,” Munkuli said.
“We want a meeting with the resident minister because there are a lot of varying statements issued about our relocation plan.’’
Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution minister Richard Moyo was evasive on demands for a relocation master plan only saying the government will hold a meeting with the victims.
”Government will talk to them, but they will be relocated near their place,’’ Moyo said when contacted for comment.
Human rights defenders have warned that the US$2million set aside for relocation is too little for the provision of social amenities such as schools and clinics.