Villagers in Bulilima who are enduring the menace of elephants which prowl their villages, destroying homes and infrastructure while also devouring crops, have said rehabilitation of Mabhongane Dam, which used to be their major source of water could help address that problem.
Constructed before independence, Mabhongane, also known as Maitengwe Dam, was a major source of water for wild animals including the elephants before it burst its wall over five years ago.
Since then, villagers in areas such as Bambadzi have never tasted peace with elephants now all over villages looking for the precious liquid.
Martha Ncube, a village head in Bambadzi told CITE during a visit to the vast dam, whose wall stretches over 7 kilometres in length, elephants were a serious cause for concern in the area.
“Elephants are a big problem here,” said Ncube.
“We cannot say they get seen; elephants actually live with the people. We grow our crops in our community but elephants come and devour everything.”
Ncube said before the dam burst, elephants and other wild animals used to drink water which was channeled to them in the bush through canals, something that kept them away from human settlements.
However, that has ceased to be the case.
“Now because of the collapse of this dam, elephants have become a serious cause for concern in the community,” bemoaned Ncube.
“We are just growing crops just for the sake of it because we cannot just give up but we know that we are farming for the elephants.”
The elephants are believed to be coming from Hwange National Park.
“We are appealing to the government to rehabilitate this dam for us,” said Ncube.
“If only this dam could be fixed to retain to its former position, then the problem of elephants could become a thing of the past.”
Naboth Nkomo, a villager in Jutshume said the dam should be rehabilitated as a matter of urgency so that cattle which also have no source of water could be saved from a crippling drought.
“A number of cattle have succumbed to drought because of the unavailability of water in most cases,” explained Nkomo.
“ Mabhongane Dam which used to be our main source of water is now in ruins following the bursting of its walls some years back. What this means is that livestock have to now share water sources with human beings. With adequate water, the situation could be much better.”
The villagers said it was regrettable that nothing tangible has been done by the government to address the issue of the dam.
“We reported this long back to the authorities,” said Ncube.
“I personally phoned our area councillor in Ward 10, Bambadzi. I do not know whether he took that message forward.”
In February this year, at the invitation of the legislator for the area, Dingumuzi Phuthi, Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) engineers visited the dam on a mission to survey the damaged wall.
However, nothing further to that has been done to attend the pressing matter.