Did Tokwe-Mukosi Dam wall collapse?

Moses Tshimukeni Mahlangu

INTERVIEWED by Human Rights Watch, one man at Chingwizi Camp alleged that the “so-called floods” at Tokwe-Mukosi were a myth. There were no floods at all.

One of the theories suggests that the sluice or spillways were shut, thereby forcing the water to flood the basin.

It is believed it would take at least five years for the Tokwe Mukosi Dam to fill up to capacity.

Another theory has it that the spillways were deliberately shut so as to flood the basin, giving a good reason for the forced eviction of the villagers.

The same villagers resisted eviction since the commencement of the construction of the dam wall in 1998.

An employee of Salini Impregilo JVC, the company building the dam wall, argued that the cost of idle equipment lying at the dam site, as compounded by the villagers’ resistance to relocate, exerted pressure on the government, which in addition could not afford to compensate the villagers. In his opinion, “a quick and effective method of relocating the villagers had to be found”.

At one time DTZ had donated 68 000 hectares to the government for the settlement of the families earmarked for relocation.

During that time the relocation costs for approximately 4 000 families was estimated at $19 million.

The completed dam is expected to become Zimbabwe’s largest inland water body whose capacity will be 1,8 billion cubic metres with a flood area of over 9 600 hectares.

History has similar incidents of primitive accumulation of wealth (supposing the floods were indeed man-induced).

In England, peasants made way to sheep ranching. In then Southern Rhodesia peasants, were forcefully removed from fertile lands and dumped at sandy and tsetse fly-infested tribal trust lands.

Interestingly, in 2013 400 families constituting 2 500 people were relocated from their villages around Tokwe-Mukosi area to Naunetsi Ranch in Mwenezi. Each family was compensated in the form of a four-hectare piece of land and amounts ranging from
$3 000 to $8 000.

According to the United Nations guiding principles on international displacement, natural and man-made disasters are treated alike.

The guidelines provide for protection against arbitrary displacement, ensure protection and assistance during displacement and the right to liberty of movement, including the right to move freely in and out of camps or other settlements.

Part 2, clauses 49, 51, 57, 61, 71, 72, 74, 75 and 76 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provide for a range of constitutional rights which are seriously infringed at Chingwizi camp.

In summary, the said clauses provide as follows

  •   Clause 49 — Right to personal liberty,
  • Clause 51 — Right to human dignity,
  • Clause 57 — Right to privacy,
  • Clause 61 — Freedom of expression,
  • Clause 66 — Freedom of movement and residence,
  • Clause 71 — Property rights,
  • Clause 72 — Right to agricultural land,
  • Clause 74 — Freedom from arbitrary eviction,
  • Clause 75 — Right to education,
  • Clause 76 — Right to food and water.

Human rights lawyers are hereby invited to take up a class action, not only on the Chingwizi camp disaster, but on all pieces of legislation that violate the provisions of the supreme law.

In terms of Section 2(1)(2), the Constitution is the supreme law of Zimbabwe and any law, practice, custom or conduct inconsistent with it, is invalid to the extent of its invalidity and every person, natural or juristic, including the State and all Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, and agencies of the government at every level must be fulfilled by them.

Under the circumstances, failure by the government to repeal all laws that do not conform to the Constitution is in contempt of the supreme law, and thereby form a constitutional dispute between the government and the electorate.

Chingwizi camp had been in the media and everywhere. Wellwishers were sought until the camp inhabitants on May 16 gave their backs to the ministers who had visited the camp.

Thereafter, it is reported soldiers pulled down the campers’ tents. The non-compliant campers were threatened with food sanctions.

All this because the campers expressed their displeasure at the way they had been treated since they were forcefully removed from their settlements.

The government is implored to heed these warning signals: The Tokwe-Mukosi resistance, the Johanne Masowe altercations with police.

Instead of suppressing views, the same views need to be taken aboard, analysed and positively addressed.

Inkosi yinkosi ngabantu, (the king or ruler is there because of or for the subjects, the electorate).

 Moses Tsimukeni Mahlangu is the general-secretary for Zimbabwe Urban Councils Workers’ Union.
He is a labour consultant and arbitrator. Feedback: Email: mosietshimu@gmail.com