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Lake Gwayi-Shangani relocation preps start

by Staff reporter
07 Sep 2021 at 06:10hrs | Views
FEAR of being affected by flooding has led Lubimbi villagers in Binga to form a committee that will work closely with the Government to facilitate smooth relocation of families that reside close to Lake Gwayi-Shangani.

The late Chief Kavula who was buried last week selected the committee before his death with the help of village heads. Local businessman Mr Edmond Sibanda chairs the committee, which has been leading visits to the lake site and various Government departments.

December 2021 has been set as the deadline for completion of the massive water body, which will have a capacity of 635 million cubic metres, making it the third biggest in-land dam in the country after Tugwi Mukosi and Mutirikwi. With construction now more than 40 percent, the dam wall will be 72 metres high and the water body will swallow about 10  000ha of land at full flooding.

Six villages namely Kamombo, Chubuyu, Kanjondo, Bumputu, Chiboni and Kavunikwa making up Lubimbi 1 and 2 will be affected.

Speaking during Chief Kavula's burial, Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo said Government was seized with identification of land for relocation of Lubimbi villagers. He said all affected families will be settled in one area to preserve their culture and heritage and everyone will be compensated. Minister Moyo said the Government was making investigations to establish the number of families that will be affected, and initial reports suggest about 350 homesteads will be moved.

The committee has implored the Government to move with speed, saying its assessment established that 502 families, more than 3 000 cattle excluding donkeys, goats, sheep and other livestock, will be affected.

The committee has come up with a position paper imploring the Government to speedily identify land where the villagers will be relocated. Nakanono and Kobondo areas around Gwayi are preferred destinations.

"The project will see the relocation of 502 families or households including a clinic, Lubimbi 2 Primary School and Secondary School. A dip tank, 60 boreholes, roads, the Shangani River bridge and other social amenities will be destroyed while arable grazing land will be lost as 2 422 people will need relocation. Culture and heritage sites such as baobab tree and hot springs where we perform rituals will be destroyed," said Mr Sibanda in the position paper.

The committee alleges that locals have not benefited from employment opportunities during construction of the dam as no local villager was employed. Its vice secretary, Mr Tongai Ncube, said the committee was concerned that some Government authorities had been lied to by some people that the community was opposed to the project and relocation.

"We have come with a position paper, which shows the community supports this project but we are concerned that some people have been lying to Government that we are opposed to the project," he said. "All we want is to work with Government and for alternative land to be identified in time for planning purposes as we don't want confusion.

"We have heard that people should move but we don't know to where yet we are approaching the rainy season. We wish this could be prioritised. We are willing to move but it is our hope that the new land should be nearby so we still benefit from Gwayi rains, soils and proximity to the main road." Lubimbi Ward 20 Councillor Chrispen Munkuli concurred saying the community was waiting for update from the Government.

This will be the fourth relocation for Chief Kavula people who were evicted by the settler government from Madilo area between Shangani and Kana rivers in 1945 to pave way for establishment of the Cold Storage Commission farm. Some were moved from Cinamatila (now Sinamatela) around 1950 to pave way for establishment of the Hwange National Park, while others were moved during the construction of the Kariba Dam around 1956.

Source - the herald