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Binga flood victims vow to resist forced relocation to safer land

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

VILLAGERS who were last month affected by flash floods in Luunga area in Binga are resisting moves by government to relocate them from flood-prone homeland to a safer area.

Parts of the Matabeleland North area were hit by flash floods which killed one person and displaced over 30 families with the Department of Civil Protection only coming to their rescue days later.

Villagers who spoke to NewZimbabwe.com said Binga Rural District Council (BRDC) has already identified an alternative place for the affected families but the flood victims are not eager to leave their ancestral land.

“Binga RDC has already pegged stands for the affected families at a place located on a higher ground but the villagers are refusing this arrangement.

“Much of the resistance is stemming from the villagers’ spiritual attachment to the land and their ancestors’ graves and traditional belief that their fate was linked to those spirits there.

“The authorities are really worried about this resistance because chances are that more severe floods might strike again,” said a local NGO official whose organisation is part of groups coordinating relief to the victims.

One of the affected villagers who only identified himself as Loice Mudenda accused the government of identifying the new settlement without consulting them.

“I do not mind being relocated but I cannot be relocated to a barren place where there is no water,” Mudenda said.

“The government is also not clear on who is going to construct our new homes because most of us cannot afford to build new houses anymore. At least here there was water for irrigating our gardens.

“Here in Luunga, we survive mainly on harvesting and selling fish. The area which the government wants us to relocate to is very dry.”

Another villager said abandoning their ancestral land interfered with their Tonga culture and livelihood.

When reached for comment, Binga District Coordinator, Farai Marinyame confirmed plans to relocate the villagers adding that the process was yet to start.

“We have not yet started the process of relocating the flood victims,” said Marinyame without revealing when.

He could not however reveal when the process was set to commence.