George Maponga at CHINGWIZI, Mwenezi
Chingwizi holding camp dwellers, mainly women and children, turned violent yesterday and torched two police vehicles in protest against plans to relocate a clinic.
The protests started on Thursday night when the villagers destroyed the district administrator’s temporary office. The 30 police officers at the camp had to flee after throwing teargas.
The camp was then deserted after the dwellers retreated into the bush fearing retribution.
Trouble started on Thursday afternoon after camp dwellers, who were resettled at Chingwizi after being affected by Tokwe-Mukosi floods, blocked Government trucks that were trying to relocate the temporary clinic to permanent plots about 17 kilometres away.
The majority of the 3 500 Chingwizi families have been resisting relocation to permanent plots demanding that Government compensate them.
Mwenezi district administrator Mr Stanley Chamisa and officials from his office were not at the camp.
The camp dwellers belted revolutionary songs and equated Chingwizi camp to a jail.
They also denounced Government plans to allocate them one-hectare plots instead of the four hectares they were initially promised.
Chairman of the Chingwizi village heads association Mr Mike Mudyanembwa said disturbances started after attempts to relocate the camp clinic.
“As long as there are people here we will not allow them to remove the clinic,” he said.
“The clinic is there to serve our people in the camp, but they wanted to relocate it about 17km away and we said no.’’
There are fears of disease outbreak at Chingwizi after non-governmental organisations that provided water treatment and sanitation facilities withdrew, citing budgetary constraints. The families at Chingwizi are also owed nearly US$9 million compensation by Government.