Villagers in Muzarabani and other areas in Zambezi Valley have over the years resisted resettlement, citing the need to remain on their ancestral land. Their continued presence has been a source of concern for the river authority and the Zimbabwe Civil Protection Unit (ZCPU).
“We have to win them over and convince them that it is in their best interests to move,” Elizabeth Karonga, the ZRA public relations manager said on the sidelines of a regional meeting on river-based organisations.
ZRA manages the Kariba Dam and monitors water levels. It is responsible for opening the floodgates once the levels are high, so that it can protect the dam wall.
Completed in 1959, the dam was built to generate power for Zimbabwe and Zambia. For optimum use, water levels should not reach a certain height as that would put the dam at risk.
“Some of the people settled during a time when there was a drought and we were not opening the floodgates, but now the rains have increased and they are at increased risk,” Karonga continued.
She said the authority sought new innovative ways and media channels to convince settlers on the Zambezi valley to move. “We have taken it for granted that radio is the best way to reach these people, but we have realised that we need new ways of mass communication, to effectively communicate with these communities,” Karonga said.
She said while the settlers were being given information in time, on the levels of water in Kariba, some people in Muzarabani had remained obstinate.
Karonga said they were also working with the ZCPU and the Zambian Disaster Management Unit in convincing the settlers on the need to be resettled.
On several occasions, villagers in Muzarabani have had their houses, household goods, livestock and crops swept away by floods especially during the rainy season.
Southern African officials were meeting in Harare to discuss how they could share cross-border water sources equitably.