Displaced Chiadzwa villagers' woes mount

MUTARE - Chiadzwa villagers who were relocated to Arda Transau continue to live under horrid conditions and are now exposed to diseases as they are drinking water from puddles and unprotected wells, which they share with livestock.

The water crisis is a result of lack of power at the community’s water works after the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company cut off supplies over a $12 000 debt.

The villagers were forcibly moved from Chiadzwa to pave way for diamond miners, but most were not compensated.

The settlement is a quasi-urban settlement, which demands payment for water and electricity, bills most of the villagers do not have capacity to foot due to lack of livelihoods.

Arda Transau Relocation Development Trust youth chairperson, Tawanda Mufute, said the water crisis has gone on for over three weeks and villagers were trying to decontaminate the water by boiling it.

“People are getting water from roadside puddles and unprotected water sources. Odzi River is too far and it is muddy due to illegal gold panning activities upstream as well as heavy contamination from mercury,” Mufute said.

He said while villagers are required to pay $6 towards water and $2 for electricity every month, it was beyond the reach of most.

“Relocation pulled the rug from under the community’s economic activities. Some are too old to adjust and there is no money circulating in the community to consider the possibility of people trading among themselves,” Mufute said.

He said the community was now pleading with different donors to provide them with solar-powered boreholes to curb the water crisis.

“We have begun drafting proposals to development partners to chip in with solar-powered boreholes like what the local school has done.

“This should help ease our problems while we wait for government to come through with comprehensive solutions to our challenges,” Mufute said.

Centre for Research and Development director, James Mupfumi, said the community’s right to water was being undermined by the electricity distribution company.

Mutare district administrator’s office confirmed receiving complaints and said plans were underway to resolve the issue.