SCORES of villagers who were relocated from Chiadzwa to Arda Transau have resorted to drinking water from unsafe sources after the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) cut supplies to the community over unpaid rates.
The villagers, who now fear an outbreak of diseases, were moved to make way for diamond mining operations by Anjin Diamond Mine.
Upon relocation, every household was given a four-roomed house with taped water.
Arda Transau Relocation Development Trust chairman, Caiphas Gwayagwaya claimed the local government had promised to pay for the water when the villagers were relocated but was now reneging on the promise.
He said the villagers were now living in fear of water-borne diseases as they were getting water from unsafe sources.
Some villagers who spoke to The Standard said the situation was becoming dire.
"We were told that we needed to pay different sums of money per each household to get the water. It's almost more than a month now without the supply and people are walking long distances to access water from Zinwa tanks," said one of the villagers, Tinashe Chiadzwa.
He added that only a few families could afford the money to have the water supply restored because most of them were not employed and had no source of income.
"We have always had reliable water free of charge here in Transau. We now feel betrayed that our lifestyles have been forced to change. We were far much better in Chiadzwa than we are now at Transau and I think it's very unfair on the part of those that moved us," said another villager, who requested anonymity.
Tsitsi Masamvu said a primary and secondary school, as well as the clinic in the area, were also affected by the scarcity of water.
The Chiadzwa Community Development Trust (CCDT) has since threatened to take legal action against the mining company and the government for violating the villagers' right to access clean water.
"This is not fair to the relocated people and we are having a series of meetings with the people to map the way forward in addressing the situation," said CCDT coordinator Melanie Chiponda.
"We will consider taking legal action against the company and the government if they don't restore water supply to the people because that will be a violation of their right."
She said it was an abuse to force rural people who had access to clean water before relocation to pay for water.
Chiponda said there was need to make a survey into the type of lifestyle suitable for the people before forced relocation.
Zimbabwe Natural Resources Dialogue Forum senior official, Freeman Bhoso said the situation was now getting out of hand.
"This actually compounds the already existing challenges in Transau, those of sustenance and limited space to exploit agriculture.
"This is the worst thing to expect at the moment after relocation. This is actually a health hazard and the company should be compelled to normalise the situation," he said.
Manicaland Provincial Administrator, Fungai Mbetsa refused to comment on why government had reneged on its commitment.
"I don't answer that question. Zinwa should answer because they know the reasons why they are disconnecting water supplies," he said.
Efforts to get a comment from Zinwa public relations officer, Tsungirirai Shoriwa were fruitless.