By Kelvin Kasiwulaya
SHURUGWI: Fifteen former Zimasco employees who were evicted from their homes during the Covid-19 induced lockdown are appealing for food aid, shelter and medical supplies, this publication can reveal.
The former employees who are currently living in makeshift squatter camps at Dun-Raven Falls along the Boterekwa escarpment were evicted from Ironsides Compound after failing to pay rentals that were hiked from RTGS$500 to RTGS$2800 per housing unit.
Speaking to reporter, evictee and Chairperson of the Chrome Mines Residents Association Naison Moyo bemoaned the squalid conditions prevailing at their self-proclaimed “refugee camp” in Boterekwa.
“Mwanangu tirikutambura muno mugomo tiri kurarama semakudo. Hatina chokudya nopokuvata. Vamwe vedu vakura vane zvifo zvezera vanoda mishonga nekurapwa” (Son we are struggling in this mountain, we are living like baboons. We have neither food nor shelter, some of us are old and sickly we require medical attention).
“Dai tawanawo rubatsiro rwezvekudya matende nemishonga kuti tikwanisewo kurarama takananga zvedu kurufu (We appeal for food aid, tents and medical supplies so that we can sustain ourselves while we wait for our death)” he said.
Mr Josiah Matsa (75) an evictee and Plumber also told this reporter that, they have no access to clean water and sanitation hence they risk contracting Covid-19 and Cholera.
“Imagine during this crisis of COVID-19 and Cholera in Shurugwi, we will all perish. We need access to clean water and sanitation we appeal to well wishers to save us before we perish in these squalid conditions,” he said
Another evictee identified as Matsa stated that, they tried engaging the Ministry of Labor and Social welfare, however their efforts were fruitless.
“We have gone to the Ministry of Social Welfare to ask for food aid but we have been turned away several times.”
Contacted for comment, the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare Shurugwi District Coordinator Mr Tivenge argued that, help is only given to those who ask for it.
“Its only that the case did not come to our attention but those who came individually were assisted accordingly” Tivenge said.
Meanwhile in a statement, ZIMASCO spokesperson, Ms Clara Sadomba said the evictions were necessitated by a lack of will by tenants to regularise their stay in company accommodation. She said this made it difficult for them to be able to maintain the houses and provide essential services. There is one communal toilet for more than 100 families.
“The affected former employees have left the company through retrenchment, retirement or resignation and are therefore treated like any other tenant renting our houses,” said Ms Sadomba
Among those evicted and in dire need of food aid and medical attention are Joshua Mazhara (75), Edison Chipangura (73), Josiah Matsa (75) and Chiedza Chomukwanda (61).