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Villagers affected by the Gwayi-Shangani dam project speak out

Lubimbi villagers in Binga who have been ordered to vacate their homesteads to make way for the Gwayi-Shangani water project said they are still in the dark on the relocation plans.

Close to five hundred homesteads, school children and more than 2 000 cattle will be affected by the development.

Speaking during an emotionally charged Citizen Engagement Meeting hosted by Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR), Monday, the villagers raised concern that the government did not properly consult the affected residents to clearly outline the relocation process.

Albert Muleya said the area which the government has identified to move them to is not suitable for human habitation.

“We never refused to move from where we are. The government just doesn’t want to take us to the place where we asked to be taken to. The place where they intend to take us to is not conducive. There are no schools, electricity or water,” he said.

Basilwizi Trust Programs manager, Danisa Mudimba, said as an organisation that advocates for the rights of villagers, they have engaged community leaders on the concerns raised by the community.  

Mudimba alleged that Lubimbi villagers have not yet been fully briefed about the relocation process.

MIHR members who attended the meeting stood in solidarity with the Lubimbi villagers.

Khethiwe Tshuma from Ward 10 in Bulawayo said the government erred in their approach to the matter adding that the Lubimbi villagers were supposed to be consulted and properly engaged prior to the finalisation of the displacement process.

“As much as we need the water, we cannot enjoy the resource at the expense of fellow residents. The government was supposed to ensure that people in Lubimbi should have been given a platform to air their grievances and deserve to be given answers,” she said.

Leslie Mpofu said the government is mandated to move the people to a place where they are comfortable.

“They need to get to a place where they can be able to farm in order to sustain their livelihoods, places where they can have access to essential resources such as health, water and education,” said Mpofu.

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