The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Matonga Trashes Villagers' Claims

Mhondoro Ngezi — VILLAGERS in Ward 11 of Mhondoro-Ngezi will not get further compensation for being moved to make way for the construction of Island Dam after getting new houses and payments for infrastructuraldevelopments they had done, The Herald has learnt.

Legislator for the area Cde Bright Matonga dismissed as baseless claims by some of the affected villagers that Zimplats had promised them a "disturbance allowance" ranging from US$1 000 to US$10 000.

He said there was no such thing as he was involved in the negotiations between Zimplats and the villagers.

"There was no promise by Zimplats to give the villagers a "disturbance allowance" as they want to call it," said Cde Matonga.

"Zimplats built houses for them that are even better than what most of them used to have and the payments for their fowl runs, kraals, gardens and fences were meant to make up for the damage to the emotional attachment they may have developed over the years with their homesteads.

"The affected families were also given seed and fertilisers to use in their new fields while Zimplats also cleared land for those who got virgin soils so I do not understand when they say they are still waiting to be compensated.

"I suspect there are some mischievous individuals just trying to stir discontent among the villagers."

Cde Matonga's comments come in the wake of allegations by some of the villagers that Zimplats had reneged on its promise to compensate them for moving them to make way for the construction of Island or Chitsuwa Dam.

The villagers said Zimplats promised to pay for all the infrastructural developments that they had done in their original homes, which would be followed by a "disturbance allowance".

One of the 19 affected families said they had only received US$1 000, as compensation for cattle kraals, fowl runs, garden, orchard and fences that were destroyed in the process.

"I have been here since November last year but Zimplats officials have not yet talked about the compensation issue," said Mrs Joyce Mupfudza.

"They told us that they would be compensating us for the trouble that we went through after giving up our old homes for the new ones they built for us.

"Of course these are better than what we used to have but a promise must always be fulfilled."

Mrs Mupfudza said though she was happy with her new home, Zimplats still needed to do more to make the homes hospitable.

"The doors absorb moisture whenever it rains and they expand leaving them difficult to close," she said.

"We cannot close them when it rains so there is no security whatsoever.

"We cannot leave the homestead unattended at any given time because thieves may take advantage of the lax security to sneak in."

Another villager, Mrs Frasia Mavende echoed Mrs Mupfudza's sentiments adding that Zimplats had promised to sink five boreholes for the villagers but had only sunk four leaving another section without water and having to travel for a distance to get safe water.

"We are now far away from sources of drinking water. I received US$3 580 for all my infrastructural investments and my orchard.

"They also gave each of us 24 bags of fertiliser, 14 of which were Compound D with the remaining 10 being ammonium nitrate.

"The problem is we are yet to really feel at home because these doors do not work whenever it rains. The contractors also did not remove the rubble generated during construction and I have no one to remove it, as I am just an old woman staying with my minor grand children," she said.

A third villager, Mrs Sylvia Chinamabori corroborated her colleagues' concerns but was quick to add that the new homes were better than their old ones.

"We have a lot of space here. We were overcrowded back in the old village.

"Now we can rear poultry freely and enjoy our space. The only challenge is we do not have land for gardens now," she said.

Co-ordinator of the villagers, Mr Davison Chimusoro also dismissed the villagers' claims for compensation as baseless saying they had received more than enough.

"These people ought to be grateful.

"They are now living in very good homes, which they had failed to build on their own since we arrived here at Silverstar in 1983.

"The money they received was for compensation. All the things that Zimplats could not build for them were accounted for in the cash they received.

"These people must realise that they will soon start to see the benefits of having this dam," said Mr Chimusoro.

The dam is being built at a cost of more than US$10 million and will serve as an irrigation and recreational facility in Silverstar resettlement.

The dam site is located five kilometres from Turf Village in Mhondoro and will be split into the North and South dams which will have 30 560 megalitres of water.

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