Tugwi-Mukosi dam, Zimbabwe’s largest inland water body, has reached 100 percent capacity and started spilling putting the lives of about 800 families downstream in danger but the families have refused the government’s proposal to relocate them.
The families say that they fear to suffer the same fate as that of the previous relocation effected by the government when disaster struck in 2014, where families were ‘dumped’ without compensation and proper shelter.
Chivi, Chiredzi and Mwenezi districts are on high risk of being affected and at least 800 families are expected to move into centers identified by the government as safe areas.
Government spokesperson, Nick Mangwana, said some families were refusing to be relocated saying only 124 families out of 800 had so far consented to evacuations.
“Tugwi -Mukosi had its first spill from Saturday night. Downstream communities are earmarked for evacuation. Of About 800 families in five Wards identified for evacuation to centres or relatives, only 124 families in Ward 22 have indicated willingness to be evacuated,” said Mangwana.
Masvingo Provincial Development Coordinator (PDC) Jefter Sakupwanya said they have only managed to move about 50 families while negotiations are still underway for the remaining ones.
“We have so far managed to move 50 families to safe places but we are having serious challenges with others who are refusing to move.
“There are a lot of reasons being cited but what we are concerned about at the moment is the safety of our people. Some families are saying the government failed to honor its obligation to compensate the 2014 flood victims but that is not accurate.
“Compensation was paid, though it took time for some families to receive their shares,” said Sakupwanya.
He said some families were opting to move in with relatives saying they fear contracting the coronavirus if they mix with other families during the relocation.
“Some families are in fear of Covid-19 and we understand them so they are rather opting to move in with their relatives. If they are safe with their relatives it’s all the better for us because our priority is people’s safety,” said Sakupwanya.
The infamous 2014 Tugwi-Mukosi national disaster which saw thousands of families being relocated, later became a humanitarian crisis after the government failed to provide for the affected families.
Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) has revealed that Tugwi-Mukosi dam was 100 percent full with a discharge of 20 mega liters per second as of January 24.