The Sunday News
Tinomuda Chakanyuka, Senior Reporter
THE Government has completed pegging stands for the relocation of more than 800 Tsholotsho villagers who were last month displaced from their homes by floods which hit the southern parts of the country.
A total of 859 affected villagers, including six teachers, are sheltered at Sipepa Hospital where a transit camp was set up.
Chairperson of the health committee at Sipepa Transit Camp, Sister Merjury Maphosa told Sunday News that more than 300 stands have been pegged at Tshino and Sawudweni in Ward Six of Tsholotsho North constituency.
Sister Makhosi, who is also the Sister-in-Charge at Sipepa Hospital said 164 stands were pegged at Tshino and 126 others at Sawudweni. She said the Government has pledged to build a three-roomed house, a separate kitchen hut and a toilet for each of the affected 210 households before relocating them. A secondary school and a police base are also expected to be constructed to service the relocated villagers.
“Plans are that the affected people will stay here for three months and they have stayed for just over a month now. Pegging of housing stands where the affected villagers will be relocated was completed last week and expectations are that the villagers will be relocated there,” she said.
Sister Maphosa added: “We had a meeting last week and it was revealed that Government would build houses for the villagers first before the people move. I understand each household will get a three-roomed house, a kitchen and a toilet.”
She was, however, not in a position to comment on the budget and availability of funds. Sister Maphosa said the Department of Civil Protection was now engaging various stakeholders to raise funds that will be used to purchase building material for the construction of the new homesteads.
Some of the affected villagers who were interviewed said they were now prepared to relocate to a safer area that is not prone to flooding. This comes after some villagers who were affected by floods in previous years refused to be relocated and returned to their flood-prone settlements. Sister Maphosa confirmed that majority of the affected villagers were eager to be relocated while a few remained adamant and want to return to their homes.
“Quite a number want to be relocated but some want to go back. They want to go back because they argue that such floods happen after a long time,” she said.
Ninety-year-old Mr Jack Ncube from Mahlozi Village said he was prepared to start a new life after having lost all his possessions to the floods.
“I think everyone is now ready to be relocated. With what we have been promised I think we will be able to restart,” he said.
Mrs Silindile Nkala, who lost a grocery store and stock worth over $2 000 said in the past villagers did not refuse to be relocated but were not happy with the areas they were supposed to relocate to. She said the new sites, Tshino and Sawudweni were better options than the ones that had been proposed in previous years.
“It’s not like people didn’t want to be relocated but they wanted to settle at a better area. The areas that have been proposed this time around are okay and I think everyone is prepared to relocate. No one wants to continue being a victim of floods.”
The villagers also bemoaned the living conditions at the transit camp where 210 households are sharing 69 tents. Mrs Sihle Gumbo from Mahlaba village appealed to authorities to improve the living conditions at the camp.
“We are sharing one tent as three families and it’s unbearable. Such conditions may trigger spread of diseases and we wish the authorities could do something about it,” she said.
Some villagers said they need assistance in the form of building material, so as to build new homes. Miss Elizabeth Dlamini also from Mahlaba Village expressed similar sentiments. President Mugabe declared the floods a state of disaster earlier this month. About 246 people were killed and nearly 2 000 were left homeless by the floods nationwide since December last year.