THE treatment the 10 ministers got at the Chingwizi transit camp on Saturday was well deserved.
It’s been more than three months since the more than 3 000 families were displaced by flooding at the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam basin in Masvingo Province.
They have been living under crowded, unsanitary conditions at the temporary camp while the government prevaricates about their relocation.
On Saturday a delegation of government ministers visited the camp to try and persuade the villagers to move to one-hectare plots they have been allocated nearby. The villagers have been resisting leaving the camp because the government is yet to pay them compensation for their relocation from the dam basin.
Villagers are also unhappy about the size of the land the government is offering as they prefer four-hectare plots.
Attempts were reportedly made to make the villagers chant Zanu PF slogans during the failed address by the ministers, but this was fiercely resisted. Tokwe-Mukosi Dam has been under construction for many years now and it is a tragedy that the issue of compensation and proper resettlement of people who were living within the flooding area is yet to be addressed. The ministers who were booed off stage and made to retreat on Saturday were paying for the government’s lethargy.
There are many cases of other national projects that have needlessly taken too long to complete and this often comes at a great cost to ordinary people and the economy at large.
The government, when embarking on big projects, should make sure that it has adequate resources to complete them within a reasonable time frame. Relocation of people should have been factored into the budget from the outset and this would have helped avert the flooding disaster.
The ministers were also taught a lesson that imposing solutions on ordinary people is a thing of the past. These villagers were sending a message that the government can no longer be trusted to keep its promises.
Chingwizi was meant to be a transit camp, which means the villagers have already overstayed.
Besides, there is a real threat of disease outbreaks at the camp and the government needs to find a solution to the crisis as quickly as possible.