WASHINGTON — The crisis at Tokwe Mukosi is worsening by the day as the impasse between government and displaced villagers over compensation continues.
The villagers were displaced from the Tokwe Mukosi area where a $200 million dam is under construction by an Italian firm - Salin Impegilo.
More than 20,000 people were affected by the flooding but villagers are refusing to move to Nuanetsi Ranch for resettlement until the government compensates them to the tune of $9 million.
Last week, a second delegation of government ministers was dispatched to the area to persuade the villagers to move but most of them refused saying they do not trust the government will deliver if they move without being paid.
The chairman of the Tokwe Mukosi Residents Trust, Tafara Wamambo, says the situation in Chingwizi is worsening by the day but says the villagers will not move until they are compensated.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights chairperson Rutendo Bonde is urging the government to address the crisis which she says is a ticking time bomb.
Bonde’s sentiments were shared by Cotrad programs manager Zivanai Muzorodzi, who adds the situation is getting desperate, noting that security forces in the area are making it difficult for NGOs to paint the real picture on the ground.
Masvingo Resident Minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti says the villagers must have confidence in their government that they will get their compensation later after moving.
The government has been complaining that the international community has not been assisting the flood victims. But many organizations, led by the Red Cross and the International Organisation for Migration have been assisting the victims. Red Cross spokesman Takemore Mazuruse says they are on the ground.
Mazuruse, though, says they have been struggling to get enough money and urged domestic philanthropists to chip in.
When completed, the dam will be Zimbabwe’s biggest inland dam with a capacity to generate 50 megawatts of electricity, enough to light up the whole of Masvingo province.
Apart from the much-needed electricity, surrounding districts (Masvingo, Chiredzi, Ngundu, Triangle), already boasting a strong agricultural industry based on sugar plantations, could be turned into a vast green belt.
After construction is completed, a hotel is expected to be built, creating about 700 jobs for locals. All these developments would help transform the former Fort Victoria into one of Zimbabwe’s sought-after tourism resort towns.
Tokwe Mukosi will be the biggest inland dam with a 90-metre dam wall and a back throw of over 35 kilometers, making it Zimbabwe’s biggest development of the 21st century.