TEN ministers were left embarrassed yesterday after flood victims at Mwenezi’s Chingwizi camp refused to listen to them as they demanded compensation for their relocation from the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam basin.
The meeting had to end prematurely after the villagers heckled and booed the ministers each time they took to the podium.
A heavy police presence could not deter the angry villagers who also refused to chant Zanu PF slogans.
The delegation led by Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo had Jonathan Moyo (Information), Joseph Made (Agriculture), Douglas Mombeshora (Lands), Dzikamai Mavhaire (Energy), Patrick Chinamasa (Finance), Saviour Kasukuwere (Environment), David Parirenyatwa (Health), Kembo Mohadi (Home Affairs) and Kudakwashe Bhasikiti (Provincial Affairs).
The ministers were at Chingwizi to try and convince the villagers to move out of the camp to one-hectare plots they are being allocated.
Villagers are demanding monetary compensation and four-hectare plots before they could relocate.
The government fears an outbreak of diseases due to overcrowding and poor hygiene as well as water shortages at the camp.
Mombeshora was the first to receive the villagers’ wrath when he said they would be allocated one hectare per family.
The minister was forced to cut short his speech and sat down after the villagers heckled him and drowned his voice.
Mavhaire tried to intervene, but he was also interupted by the villagers who said they wanted money first.
Chombo who chairs the Cabinet committee on Tokwe-Mukosi was also booed and invited Bhasikiti to speak.
But the villagers said they did not want him to address them either.
Other ministers who were supposed to speak could not do so as Chombo was forced to end the meeting.
Mike Mudyanembwa, the spokesperson for the villagers said they had sufferd for too long, hence yesterday’s protest.
He also accused the government of changing goalposts on the issue of compensation.
“We have survived here since February under such pathetic conditions.
“It’s a matter of life and death,” he said. “The government is now shifting goalposts on land where we are to be moved.
“We also demand food and our compensation.”
Chinamasa said the government is aware that it owes the villagers money and it would be released as soon as it became available.
The villagers sang in protest as the ministers left and tried to block their kombi, but were restrained by the police.
More than 3 000 families displaced by flooding in the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam basin in Masvingo Province have spent more than three months living in crowded, unsanitary conditions at the temporary camp. The majority of the villagers are from Chivi.