Zimbabwe must be the only country in the region that has failed to provide potable water for urban residents in its major cities and, at the rate the water issue is being politicised, with blame being hurled back and forth, the problem will take forever to solve.
It is common knowledge Bulawayo city in the drought-prone Matabeleland region faces perennial water problems. Generations have come and gone trying to bring an end to this development-crippling quandary.
The most glaring proof that the city’s water dilemma is not small is the creation of the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project.
There are other water projects like the Mtshabezi Dam pipeline which further buttress proof Bulawayo and the region need water.
The reason why the projects have not been completed is the politics that come in, throwing the otherwise noble cause into disarray.
Last week we had Water Resources minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, the man who should be in the know about Bulawayo’s water crises, seeming to deny there is a problem of water in the country’s second largest city.
Nkomo said the whole issue of water shortage in Bulawayo was nothing but a fictional creation of some uncouth politicians from Harare who were lying through their teeth just to cause business flight from the City of Kings to Harare.
The minister said it was not true that Bulawayo does not have adequate water supplies and those that said so were unscrupulous liars pursuing a centralisation agenda.
It becomes quite worrying for the minister responsible for water and one who hails from Matabeleland for that matter to be the one making such claims.
“The political connotation in reports of Bulawayo water running low cannot be ignored,” Sipepa Nkomo said.
“The people who are largely quoted by the media as having said Bulawayo has little or no water are politicians based in Harare.
“When an investor comes to Zimbabwe, they hear of Bulawayo water reserves being low and immediately lose interest in the region without finding out for themselves the truth of the matter.”
It is common cause the largest investment that Matabeleland needs is the water project that will see the city draw water from the Zambezi River — a mammoth project that will see water running in a tunnel or pipes several hundred kilometres long.
That is the project that an investor interested in putting money in Matabeleland should be interested with.
Denying as minister Nkomo attempts to do, that there is a water problem in the region is not a wise thing to do. Burying one’s head in the sand, ostrich-style, is not the way to go.
We should avoid to get so carried away by politics that we deliberately close our eyes to glaring problems that we need solved for the betterment of our children and future generations.
Suggesting that anyone that cries out for a water solution to Matabeleland is chasing a political agenda could be suicidal for the minister.
There is no one in Bulawayo and the entire Matabeleland region that is not aware of the water crisis and calling this a lie could actually cost Nkomo votes.