Harare, February 4, 2015 – Tormented villagers in Zimbabwe’s southern province of Masvingo are succumbing to death owing to the fatalness of scorpion stings and an outbreak of diarrhea and malaria, it has emerged.
In February last year, the government displaced 20 000 villagers who used to reside in Tokwe Mukorsi and moved them to arid land at Chingwizi transit camp, due to massive floods, which critics and experts say could have been avoided.
Some Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) living in Chingwizi told journalists in Harare on Tuesday at the launch of a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report that several people including children were dying owing to poisonous scorpions stings.
Apart from the scorpion bites, the IDPs said people were dying from diseases such as malaria and diarrhea.
“The conditions that we are living in are uninhabitable. Hunger and diseases such as malaria and diarrhea and scorpions bites are causing deaths. Please rescue us by taking us out of where we are living,” said Vanisai Muzenda, who recently survived a scorpion bite.
One of the flood victims, Admire Mashenjere told journalists that one of her relatives Susan Chikosi had succumbed to death after suffering a scorpion bite.
Kenneth Hlavano, a retired soldier and a flood victim living in Chingwizi bemoaned poor sanitation facilities and food shortages which have been forcing children to drop out of school.
In its 57 page report entitled Homeless, Landless and Destitute-The Plight of Zimbabwe’s Tokwe-Mukorsi Flood Victims, the HRW held the government accountable for the saddening plight of the flood victims who have not been given alternative land to build houses and grow their crops.
“The Zimbabwean government has stopped at nothing to coerce 20,000 flood victims to accept a resettlement package that provides labor for a government project, but leaves the flood victims utterly destitute,” said Dewa Mavhinga, the southern Africa senior researcher at HRW.
Mavhinga implored the government to immediately give the victims adequate aid without conditions and compensate them fairly for their losses.
In December, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) rescued 26 of the IDPs who were arrested in August and charged with committing public violence. The 26 were acquitted at the close of the State case after undergoing trial for allegedly assaulting police officers during a protest staged last August at the transit camp against the relocation of medical facilities.
Only four out of 30 villagers who were arrested and tortured by the police were found guilty of committing public violence. However, their lawyers from ZLHR have appealed against both
conviction and the harsh sentence which the country’s leading defence group has described as a “shocker”.