THE reports that the government has pulled the plug on donor assistance to the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam flood victims are extremely worrying.
Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo is said to have issued the order after over 20 000 people refused to leave Chingwizi transit camp before they receive their compensation.
Only 500 families have reportedly complied with the directive to move out of the overcrowded camp to build new homes in plots allocated by the government recently.
The majority of the people at the camp say they cannot move out before monetary compensation because they simply do not trust the government to keep its promises.
Violence has also been reported at the camp as the people intent on forcing the government to give them money before they move out clash with those who are leaving the camp.
Some women have also resorted to demonstrating against the government and the situation is now very volatile.
The government has said it needs more than $8 million to compensate the villagers and it is common knowledge that Treasury has no capacity at the moment to bankroll such an initiative.
However, this does not mean that the government can literally get away with murder.
The Tokwe-Mukosi Dam basin tragedy would not have happened if the government was diligent enough in dealing with the project.
Compensation for the villagers was mooted way before the project that has been underway for over a decade began, but nothing happened until disaster struck in February this year.
The government should move with speed to address the mess at Chingwizi.
However, starving people for exercising their democratic right to demonstrate is the height of irresponsibility on the part of government.
Among the people at the camp are children, the sick and disabled who are being punished together with the able-bodied family heads.
Chombo should come up with a workable solution to the crisis that is acceptable to everyone instead of resorting to scare tactics.