A POLICE post at Chingwizi transit camp went up in smoke in the early hours of Wednesday morning in a suspected arson attack as anger mounts over the government’s failure to compensate and improve living conditions of the more than 18 000 villagers resident in the camp.
About $9 million is needed to compensate the villagers displaced by the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam floods. They are resisting moving to one-hectare plots a few kilometres from Chingwizi without compensation. Only 400 villagers have heeded to the government’s calls to decongest the camp by voluntarily moving to the new settlement.
Masvingo provincial police spokesperson could not be reached for comment as her mobile phone rang unanswered, but police sources said they suspected an arson attack by angry villagers.
“It is not clear yet, but we suspect sabotage by angry villagers. However, the official explanation is that a candle caused the fire,” a police officer said on condition of anonymity due to organisational protocol.
The living conditions at the overcrowded camp are dire and have been worsened by a government food ban in a bid to force the villagers to move out of the camp. Several attempts to engage the villagers have hit a snag.
Last month, a high-powered delegation of 10 ministers was left with egg on face after being booed and heckled, forcing a hasty retreat.