By Farai Maposa
The Human Rights Watch Southern Africa report ’Homeless, Landless, and Destitute: The Plight of Zimbabwe’s Tokwe-Mukosi Flood Victims’ has been launched.
The organisation’s senior researcher Dhewa Mavhinga said according to the accounts of the Tokwe-Mukosi victims the floods could have been avoided indicating that responsible government officials slept on the job.
“From the information we gathered the floods could have been averted had the authorities opened the floodgates and let the floods spill downstream.
“We urge the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to launch an investigation into the matter as it is becoming glaring evident that no effort was made to let water out and avoid the hazard,” said Mavhinga.
Meanwhile, there were chilling accounts of some of the flood victims who said life is becoming increasingly unbearable after they were forcibly settled on one hectare plots by the government.
Wanisai Muzenda, a widow who is on life prolonging ARV medication said she is failing to sustain herself and sometimes contemplates suicide because of government’s lack of concern for them.
“I lost my husband and now on medication. I had built my house on the initial 4-hectares that we were given by the government but left all that after we were moved to the one hectare and now I am failing to feed myself,” narrated a visibly distraught Muzenda.
Another woman from Tokwe-Mukosi Kundiso Tevera said most of the flood victims have lost livestock and there are widespread cases of diarrhoea, malaria and scorpion bites that have led to deaths.
“The situation we are in is dire as diseases and scorpion bites are threatening our lives and we need the government to speed up efforts to look into our issue,” said Tevera.
Tevera said that the government seemed to have turned a blind eye on their plight since they don’t have any feedback from it whether where they have now been settled is permanent or they are going to moved again.
“We are enshrouded in uncertainty since we don’t have the official information whether we are to stay in those small plots forever or we will be moved away again,” added a teary-eyed Tevera.
Most of the flood victims said the area is inhabitable owing to its arid conditions and that food shortages will continue to soar.
The 57-page report, “Homeless ,Landless, and Destitute :The Plight of Zimbabwe’s Tokwe Mukosi Flood Victims,” documents human rights violations suffered by people forced to suddenly evacuate their homes due to massive flooding in the Tokwe Mukosi basin in February 2014.
The report said government used violence and intimidation to quell protests,and restricted food distribution and health and education services to those who resisted government resettlement plans.