Mazwi villagers displaced for power project face broken promises

Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) Director Khumbulani Maphosa has brought attention to the struggles encountered by Mazwi villagers on the outskirts of Bulawayo who were relocated to make way for the installation of a 335km overhead power line stretching from the Hwange substation to the Insukamini Electricity substation.

The project was overseen by the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC).

The overhead power line forms part of the Hwange power station expansion project, which sought to add 600MW of power to the national grid.

Speaking on the “This Morning on Asakhe” programme regarding the displacement of villagers due to development, Maphosa highlighted deficiencies in the relocation process.

He stated that the company responsible for constructing new residences failed to conduct thorough evaluations of individuals.

Maphosa stated, “Twenty-nine households were relocated due to the high-voltage power line, prioritising their safety. However, issues arose during the assessment process. Language barriers hindered effective communication between evaluators and villagers.”

“Furthermore, the company neglected to inform individuals of their evaluation results, and compensation details, and did not facilitate the signing of compensation agreements. Instead, they offered a blanket solution of one additional house per household and provided cash disturbance allowances.”

Maphosa also revealed that the contractor was importing sand for construction from the Midlands.

“Construction delays exceeded a year, leading to rushed processes. Villagers received smaller plots of land than expected, fewer houses, and encountered issues such as clogged toilets and leaking houses.

“The responsible company failed to provide contact information for villagers to address grievances,” Maphosa said.

Despite these challenges, Maphosa highlighted that villagers utilised disturbance allowances to enhance their living conditions.

MIHR has prepared a policy brief to disseminate to the media and government officials, outlining necessary policy reforms to prevent similar issues in the future.

“We petition parliament for oversight in displacing communities, aiming to establish a framework to safeguard their rights.”

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