Human Rights Watch has urged Zimbabwe to compensate displaced Tokwe Mukosi flood victims and encouraged the African Union to press Harare to ensure full protection of the rights of the displaced in accordance with its legal obligations under the AU Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa.
The displaced victims say their lives have been ruined following ravaging floods last year, which left them homeless and poor.
In its report titled “Homeless, Landless and Destitute – The Plight of Zimbabwe’s Tokwe Mukosi Flood Victims,” Human Rights Watch is urging authorities to compensate the 20,000 flood victims and the African Union to use relevant statues in tackling the issue.
The human rights organization also called on United Nations agencies to directly monitor the situation of the affected people to ensure that humanitarian assistance was not diverted or used to coerce the victims to accept inadequate resettlement options.
Speaking at the launch of the report, Human Rights Watch senior researcher, Dewa Mavhinga, said the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission should investigate whether the relocation of the flood victims was done in a manner that does not violate their basic rights.
Mavhinga said it was worrying that the affected families were relocated on pieces of land that is in dispute.
Mavhinga urged the affected people to approach the courts for remedial action. Studio 7 failed to get a comment from Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, who was not answering his mobile phone while Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi referred all questions back to Bhasikiti.
The estimated 20,000 people were relocated from the flooded Tokwe Mukosi Dam basin to Chingwizi Camp on Nuanetsi Ranch in Mwenezi district following the ravaging floods.
Now, some of the affected families continue to complain that they do not have suitable accommodation. One such person is Kundiso Tevera who told VOA Studio 7 that the small plots they were resettled on by government are inadequate for them to eke out a living.
Tevera said waterborne diseases are prevalent at their new settlements, adding that affected families are walking long distances to fetch water from boreholes that were drilled by authorities.
She said only six of the 36 available boreholes are servicing the entire community.
Another affected villager, Wanisai Muzenda, said access to food is a major problem in the new settlements, especially considering that they were resettled on some semi-arid land.
Muzenda said most of their children are now dropping out of school because of the hardships faced by the displaced families.
Former Zimbabwe National Army soldier, Kenneth Hlavano, who has also been seriously affected following his relocation to a new settlement.
Hlabano said he is concerned that authorities have not paid displaced villagers money as some form of compensation despite moving them three times.
It still remains to be seen whether the Zimbabwe government, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and African Union will help the displaced flood victims as President Robert Mugabe is now also the AU chairperson.