BY PRESTIGE MUNTANGA
VILLAGERS in Muchesu, Binga who were given a three months’ notice to vacate their ancestral land to pave way for a Chinese coal mining project, have been promised pieces of land to the East of Binga.
This was revealed during a consultative meeting held between the villagers and management from the Chinese company, Monaf last week.
But local Ward 12 councillor Matthias Mwinde told Sunday Southern Eye that the villagers would only relocate after their compensation demands have been met.
“We discussed this with the company (on Tuesday) and the villagers laid down their demands and concerns. People demanded good shelter, roads and clean water. The company has found a place where we are going to be placed and it’s in the East of Muchesu village, Binga East site,” Mwinde said.
“This was in preparation for the resettlement and we assume that the company will meet the demands of the people because if they don’t, we are going to have problems with them. People agreed that they will stay put until Monaf constructs the houses.”
Mwinde said villagers wanted big fields for communal farming activities.
“Our biggest challenge is that the company said no one will be provided with the big fields. We have big fields and we are used to farming, and the promised 200 square metres of land is not enough.” he said.
“We do livestock farming and the company won’t provide any space for us to keep our livestock. We are so worried about our future right now because the majority of people are too old to start looking for jobs. The elders are used to farming. This will be a challenge for them to adapt into a new life at their ages.”
He also cast doubt that the company would build new schools as promised.
“But in the meantime they will be providing transport for students. We are also not sure if this is true because schools will be more than five kilometers to where we are moving to. We don’t know if they will fulfill their promises,”said Mwinde.
The eviction of the Binga villagers has raised concern in other parts of the district that they may also be relocated to pave way for other mining projects.
Reports of relocation reportedly bring sad memories among the Tonga people who are still angry following their forced relocation from their ancestoral lands in the 1950’s from the banks of the Zambezi River where they used to reside.
Thousands of Tonga people in the Zambezi Valley were forcibly removed from their lands in the Zambezi River in the 1950’s to pave way for the construction of the Kariba dam.