Home » Human Rights » Govt Caused Tokwe Mukosi Floods, State Agency

IN a shock development, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has produced a report revealing that the so-called Tokwe-Mukosi floods which displaced an estimated 50,000 villagers in Masvingo were a state creation.

The constitutional body created following the adoption of a new constitution said, following a study last year, it has concluded that the floods were not natural and government could do better to alleviate the suffering of affected citizens.

“Inordinate delays in compensating the affected people has caused unnecessary suffering,” reads the report the report by the ZHRC headed by former Immigration Department chief Elasto Mugwadi.

“The delays are unfortunate given the fact that the Tokwe-Mukosi disaster was not natural but man-made. The flooding and subsequent emergency evacuation was clearly caused by a government planned dam construction project.

“Ideally, the government should have compensated and properly relocated affected families prior to commencement of the construction.

“The shortcomings in planning have caused the current losses and suffering among helpless and vulnerable citizens.

“The government must therefore move swiftly to address the anomalies by way of adequate compensation.”

Rights activists claim that more than 50,000 villagers were forcibly moved by the government last year after the Tokwe-Mukosi dam, still under construction, mysteriously burst its banks.

Pro-democracy and human rights group cried foul and accused the government of a political motive in moving some villagers who were not affected to “dump them in the middle of the jungle”.

A top Zanu PF official from Masvingo, two weeks ago, told journalists in the capital that the relocations had caused massive disturbances in the lives of the ordinary villagers.

Killer Zivhu, the Masvingo Rural District chairperson, said the camp at which the villagers were staying has since seen an outbreak of deadly spiders as well as malaria that has caused numerous deaths.

Another report released last week by international rights group Human Rights Watch came short of “outing” President Robert Mugabe’s administration as having artificially caused the flooding in a political gamesmanship to uproot the villagers.

However, ZHRC in its report that will now be presented before parliament by vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa who is also Justice Minister excoriates government for a litany of rights violations.

“ZHRC notes with concern that the majority of the residents were allocated one tent per household regardless of the family size. This made the residents’ life uncomfortable,” the report adds.

“In some families, fathers-in-law were sharing the same tent with their daughters-in-law, a situation that is culturally and socially unacceptable.

“Moreover the tents are reported to retain a lot of heat during hot weather and vice versa during the cold weather making them uncomfortable and susceptible to wear and tear.”

Masvingo is a perennially dry area and the report urged government to swallow its pride and recall humanitarian organisations to assist with food aid.

“ZHRC notes with concern the lack of a clear strategy that will ensure sustainable food security for the residents after September 2014.

“This is particularly important as there were limited livelihood opportunities in the relocation site,” the report said adding that it unearthed massive moral decadence including prostitution.

Provincial Minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti was last year fingered in the abuse of food aid meant for villagers.

Human Rights Watch, in its report, indicated the food could have been used by the state to force reluctant villagers to leave their ancestral homes even when it was clear the floods would not have affected them.

Source : New Zimbabwe