The relocation of 2 700 families from Chingwizi holding camp to their permanent plots at Nuanetsi Ranch brought huge relief to the families as it marked the start of new life for them, away from the squalid living conditions that prevailed at the camp. Outbreaks of diseases had become the order of the day at the holding camp as the villagers, that are part of the group that was affected by the Tokwe Mukosi flooding, did not have access to adequate toilet and bathing facilities, clean drinking water and schools for the children.
That Chingwizi holding camp was not fit for human habitation cannot be disputed as there were no meaningful facilities to talk about and that is the reason why there were endless fights at the camp for the few resources that were available.
While the Government must be commended for finally moving the families to their permanent plots at Nuanetsi Ranch, it still has much more work to do to ensure the families are ready for the summer cropping season, which is just around the corner.
Most of the villagers lost their possessions and more importantly, their livestock, which is their main source of draught power. This means the families must be assisted with tillage and inputs this season as they settle down at the plots.
This is where the District Development Fund's tillage division is expected to play a big role in tilling the land for the families, given that the majority of them lost their cattle during flooding. It would not make any sense at all relocating people now and just leave them on the land without assistance.
We do not think it would be too much asking the DDF to till the one-hectare plots the families were allocated. The problems do not end with provision of tillage. The families must also be assisted with inputs, such as seed and fertiliser, to complete their full empowerment.
Already the Government has proved again that it always has the interest of the people at heart by promising to take over the feeding of the families until the next harvest.
We hope that if they are able to productively use the land and in the process achieve household food security, then it means they will be able to buy cattle and inputs for the next season. There is no way they can remain a basket case and fail to work on the land.
It has been proven time and again that Zimbabweans are inherently farmers and that if given the resources they can easily attain food self-sufficiency.
The families have for long been clamouring for relocation and now that their wish has finally been granted, we hope to see them start life at the new plots without any more fights but should now be bound by the spirit of oneness, the spirit of togetherness.
We also urge the Government to develop the necessary infrastructure, such as roads, schools and clinics at Nuanetsi so that the families have access to basic needs.
It is quite encouraging to note that the Government has already crafted an irrigation master-plan for the development of irrigation infrastructure at the permanent plots.
This would help the families grow crops all-year round and should be a big boost to household incomes as they would be able to sell crops uninterrupted.