The Sunday News
Lance Chigodo, Features Correspondent
FOUR seasons have come and gone and the country has even gone through another tragedy of a similar nature but the 2017 Cyclone Dineo victims of Siphepha in Tsholotsho, Matabeleland North are still feeling the wrath of the disaster that struck them four years ago.
They have not forgotten. They can’t forget. The wounds and not the scars are still fresh, bleeding and every rain season is a constant reminder of their problem as they look with painful uncertainty at the unfinished houses that the government has been constructing after their displacement by the cyclone.
Villagers of Maphili, Thamula, Mahlasi, Mathaba and Mbamba, who were moved from their settlement after their homes were destroyed by the angry Gwayi River when it bursts at the seams from rapid showers from Cyclone Dineo have lived under unbearable conditions at Sawudeni, their new settlement.
The Councilor of Ward 6 Mthetho Sikhosana said the villagers were surviving under harsh conditions with inadequate water sources and a remainder of them still living in plastic tents which were pitched on their new resettlement areas temporarily as they waited for various authorities to provide permanent shelter.
“There is a huge water crisis, the solar powered water sources are no longer functional, so it is a crisis. Nothing was done well, even their homes are incomplete and there is over 90 housing stands which were never touched meaning there is over 90 homeless families as we speak.
“They have been promised aid over and over but nothing was delivered some of them have gone back to the hazardous settlements. They were even promised a school because as it is children crowd at Tshino. I have approached a number of parliamentarians and ministers but there are still no results, only promises,” said Councilor Sikhosana.
It is an unpleasant view as women of all age groups and children scramble at the few available boreholes in a quest to make it home before the night falls. Mavis Ndlovu, a villager from of Sawudweni said the water situation was way out of hand because women were returning to their homes after nine at night.
“I have been here since morning and it is getting late. I will not even get the chance to fetch, the situation is really bad. We hope the situation is dealt with because we cannot live like this forever,” she said.
Another devastated villager Thobekile Ndlovu told Sunday News that her neighborhood has over 145 households and there were plans of having two water sources pegged for them when they settled but nothing had materialized up to now.
“The population has grown. The plan was to set adequate water supplies but we do not know what happened. There were plans for two water sources for the 145 of us in our line but now there are more people who were brought here with their families and cattle creating a strain on the little resources,” said Ndlovu.
The villagers who still live in tents and incomplete houses since 2017 have also been agonizing over harsh weather conditions from all the seasons as the tents are tattered forcing them to seek refuge at the homes of their neighbors who are not always willing to assist.
In an interview with Sunday News a 34-year-old mother of three, Talent Ndlovu lamented the inhuman conditions they were living under at the settlement that was set to free them from the former dangerous settlement which was prone to flooding again.
“We have been affected by all sorts of weather conditions be it rain or the cold in these tents for over three years. We thought we had come here to start over since our property and livelihoods were destroyed but now, we are living like squatters with not enough food and water sources,” she said.
Philani Masuku, a 38-year-old resident of Sawudweni whose house was left incomplete with no door windows and floor spoke of how much of a disaster it is living in the dry, unforgiving weather conditions without proper accommodation and water.
“Some of the houses were built and roofed but were left without windows, door and floors. The houses which were completed were under District Development Fund. The ones under public works are incomplete with no floor, windows and doors. The other stands were cleared but were untouched. “People are now sharing houses with their neighbors when there are heavy rains or when it is cold,” he said.
Masuku also said they feel abandoned and forgotten. They regret leaving their homes where there was fertile land, proper homes and water.
“We feel like we were removed, abandoned and forgotten. These conditions are not human. Some of the families returned to rebuild their former homes and those who are still here are also considering going back to the flood prone areas,” he added.
In earlier interviews however, Matabeleland North Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Cde Richard Ndlovu said the government was aware of the remainder of people whose houses were not completed and was making efforts to make sure they were finished.