It is 8am and a couple of hours after sunrise.
For the folk here in Binga, it is the beginning of yet another
sweltering October day.
Just like in every part of Zimbabwe, October has the hottest days,
and in Binga, a district that lies on the edges of the Zambezi
Valley, the temperatures are significantly much higher, making life
more difficult for the locals, who mostly survive on carving,
fishing, pottery and very little subsistence farming.
The rivers, most of which spill into the nearby Lake Kariba, run dry,
and with the area being largely rural, the only available water
sources — boreholes — begin to give less and less water.
For example, at Siansundu, the boreholes only release water after
sunset, leaving many to spend the better part of the nights at the
few available water points.
In May, human rights watchdog, the Zimbabwe Peace Project
(ZPP), in a survey report, noted that Binga, despite its proximity to
the Zambezi River, had chronic water shortages, due to
Prince Dubeko Sibanda, the then legislator for the area, said the
setting-up of infrastructure for the provision of water was the
“The (Ian) Smith regime promised Binga people when it relocated
them from the Zambezi River that water would follow them, but
failed to fulfil that promise, the same with the Zanu PF
government,” Sibanda said.
“Government must provide water infrastructure, boreholes are not
the answer to the water problems in communities.
“We cannot have people and their livestock drinking from
“We do not have a government. People need clean water for
domestic use, drinking and for agriculture.”
Jestina Mukoko, the ZPP national director, said the issue of water
problems in Binga needed an urgent solution.
“The government should also ensure the prioritisation of the
welfare of the people of Binga,” Mukoko said.
“Only eight months ago, one person died and others were injured
in floods, and as we approach another rainy season, the people of
Binga are still at risk of floods as nothing has been done to
relocate the victims.”
In addition to water shortages, the area, whose majority
population are the Tonga people, is always stalked by hunger
despite being located close to Zimbabwe’s major water body,
The stark contrast between the lives of the native Tonga people
and of those who live at and come to the fancy hotels and resorts
and fisheries lining up the edges of Lake Kariba, and the safaris
surrounding the areas, lays bare the marginalisation of the locals,
who live from hand to mouth.
Reaching Binga is a nightmare, not just because of the
mountainous terrain that makes navigation difficult, but also due
to the road infrastructure’s advanced state of neglect.
From the main highway off the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway,
one travels for over 170km in a potholed road that runs across the
In interviews carried out in Manjolo, Siansundu and Binga centre,
locals said they felt neglected by central government.
For the Tonga people, the bad road is one of the reasons they feel
the national establishment has abandoned them.
“The state of the roads that lead here is a big issue. It feeds into
our belief that we have been left on our own,” said a Binga
resident at Manjolo, one of the small shopping centres in the area.
The state of the road infrastructure, in many ways, becomes the
symbol of neglect in the district, where in some parts, people live
in a semi-wild state, and enduring conflicts with the animals from
the game parks that surround them.
Their story of marginalisation has been made worse by the recent
recall of Sibanda, the Binga North MP.
Sibanda joined the growing list of legislators and councillors
being recalled by the MDC-T led by Thokozani Khupe.
Khupe won a Constitutional Court dispute that gave her control of
the main MDC-T and she has been on a sustained drive to kick out
legislators and councillors not loyal to her, in what many have
touted as aiding the ruling Zanu PF’s gravitation towards a oneparty state.
For the people of Binga, they see this as a war against them, and
an attempt to further rob them of the only voice they ever had in
the form of Sibanda.
“Now that the government together with Khupe have recalled
Sibanda, it is clear that they have started a war with the people of
“We are prepared to protect our votes, and we will do all it takes,”
said one villager.
According to some, the politics of Binga, where the opposition
has always won since 2000, explains the neglect.
“We have always supported the opposition, and perhaps that is
why we remain forgotten,” said a Manjolo villager, who requested
to remain anonymous.
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