Villagers in Mangwe have urged the government to declare Matabeleland South province a water shortage area because of the scarcity of the resource.
This was part of a raft of resolutions adopted by participants at a policy dialogue hosted by a local non-governmental Christian organisation, Habakkuk Trust, in conjunction with NewsDay newspaper held in Plumtree on Wednesday.
Villagers drawn from Zimnyama, Macingwana, Skhulu and Small Scale villages, pointed out the province records the least amount of rainfall every year, hence the need to declare it a water shortage area.
This comes hardly a week after the Roman Catholic Church implored the government to declare water shortage a national disaster to enable international partners to assist in infrastructure development.
“People walk long distances. For example, villagers from Ziyaba walk close to 13km in search of water at a school borehole in the ward.
“Livestock strays for up to 23km to Plumtree Town in search of water and as a result they (villagers) have to pay fines to the Plumtree Town council,” said London Tshabangu while presenting a position paper on the water situation.
Another villager, Alois Nkomo, said Mhlanga Dam was supplying water to Plumtree town while the other two dams had been affected by siltation.
“We are calling on authorities to at least sink two boreholes per ward to alleviate water shortages because most water sources are deep wells that were sunk a long time ago and have since run dry,” he said.
Bulilima West MP Moses Mzila-Ndlovu said even the Ministry of Water Resources Development and Management, had no long-term plan to solve water problems in the area.
“Government departments are not bound to provide water to locals where the dams are located.
“There is a lack of a coherent legislative framework that will make it mandatory for them to provide water to the people,” he said.
“We lack the power to hold people to account.
“The move to compel the government to provide water to its people has to start from the community to the councillors all the way to Parliament.”
A representative of the District Development Fund, Lenford Nyaruwata, said the department had partnered with a number of non-governmental organisations that would see them rolling out a programme of sinking at least four boreholes per ward in the district.