Mutambara denies abandoning villagers

HARARE - Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara has rubbished reports that his committee has failed to compensate more than 1 200 villagers displaced by Zanu PF ally and businessman Billy Rautenbach.

Mutambara is heading the government inter-ministerial taskforce established to resolve problems faced by Rautenbach’s Macdom, which is producing ethanol in Chisumbanje.

He told the Daily News that plans were on track, promising a progress report next week.

He was responding to complaints by some villagers that they have been left in the cold.

“You picked that rubbish. It is baseless to assume we have done nothing. We are having a progress report next week at our offices to brief all stakeholders of the developments we have made so far,” Mutambara said.

It has emerged from recent reports that villagers in the Chisumbanje area are still homeless and living in wretched poverty more than four weeks after they were promised government assistance for resettlement.

Mutambara is spearheading a programme to compensate the villagers, the programme has however, come under scrutiny after it emerged that government had failed to fulfil promises.

“Those with problems on the rate of progress must consult us directly because as far as we are concerned, we are moving according to schedule,” said Mutambara.

Mutambara has even been under fire from Energy and Power Development minister Elton Mangoma, who is on record complaining about delays by the government inter-ministerial taskforce in solving problems in Chisumbanje.

“We said several things must happen and although I have not been following everything, what I know is that we had recommended the setting up of a community implementation committee that has not yet happened,” Mangoma said.

There are two objectives the taskforce has failed on, firstly on displacement and secondly on compensation, Mangoma said.

Apart from compensating the villagers, the company should compensate households which lost crops in the process of developing the project’s dams and canals.

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