Zimbabwe: Govt Intervenes in Rautenbach, Chingwizi Families' Standoff

Photo: The Herald
Tokwe Mukosi flood victims.
14 February 2019

Government has broken the impasse between over 3 000 Tugwi-Mukosi flood victims at Chingwizi and businessman Mr Billy Rautenbach, who were at loggerheads over access to water and grazing pastures at the Nuanetsi Ranch in Mwenezi.

Mr Rautenbach's Zimbabwe Bio Energy (ZBE) runs wildlife, animal husbandry and commercial crocodile-rearing ventures at Nuanetsi where families displaced by the Tugwi-Mukosi Dam were resettled by Government in 2014.

Chingwizi families were unhappy with ZBE, amid reports that Mr Rautenbach's firm was denying them access to water for domestic consumption and their livestock in the arid area.

Mr Rautenbach stood accused of failing to peacefully co-exist with the families by also denying them access to grazing pastures and fencing-off access roads used by school children. Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Ezra Chadzamira on Monday said Government engaged Mr Rautenbach over the families' concerns.

He said a new epoch in the relations between the former feuding parties was on course.

"We engaged him (Mr Rautenbach) and he agreed to give the families at Chingwizi access to water and grazing pastures and we hope this new development will improve relations between him and the local community," said Cde Chadzamira. "It is our hope that from now going forward, there will be peaceful co-existence between the community and Mr Rautenbach after he agreed to attend to their concerns. The problems of access to water and grazing pastures is now a thing of the past."

Cde Chadzamira said Government would never tolerate ill-treatment of Chingwizi families, emphasising the State's commitment to making sure they benefited from Tugwi-Mukosi Dam water to improve their lives.

"The families at Chingwizi are not illegal settlers, they were resettled there by Government to pave way for Tugwi-Mukosi Dam, so we will always try to make sure that their concerns are attended to," he said.

"We will also make sure they are the first to benefit from the dam's water, they deserve utmost support."

Cde Chadzamira moved to resolve the dispute between the families and Mr Rautenbach after the villagers threatened to take matters into their own hands, citing alleged long-running ill-treatment.

The families claimed their livestock was starving to death owing to lack of access to pastures and water. Even potable water was a problem, forcing the families to fetch the commodity from canals that irrigate cane plantations at the nearby Mpapa estates.

Government moved Tugwi-Mukosi flood victims to Chingwizi following flooding in the dam basin that precipitated arguably the largest mass relocation of people in post-independent Zimbabwe.

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