Bulawayo civic society organisations have started canvassing for a million signatures to petition the government to speedily complete the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP) and address the region’s perennial water woes.
The organisations — the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisation (Nango) western region, Habakkuk Trust, Shalom Project Trust and Intsha.com – launched the campaign dubbed 100 Years of a Pipedream on Friday last week.
This year marks 100 years since the MZWP idea was mooted in 1912.
Chairperson of Nango western region Godwin Phiri said the campaign was meant to place the water project at the centre of the government’s development agenda.
“The 100 Years of a Pipedream’ commemorations are a concerted effort by civil society in the Matabeleland region to place the MZWP at the centre of the development agenda,” he said in a statement.
“The process will include marches, roadshows, a conference and the mobilisation of one million signatures petition.”
Phiri said the awareness campaigns would culminate in a water conference where Water Resources Development and Management minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo would receive the petition.
He said stakeholders should collectively ensure that the water project was implemented immediately.
“A whole century has elapsed since the idea of the MZWP was mooted and yet up to this day, not a single drop of water is being harvested from the Zambezi River nor at least 10 metres of pipeline laid,” he said.
“We wish to call upon government, the private sector and local authorities in Matabeleland, donors, NGOs and all stakeholders to focus on how we can collectively ensure that the water project is implemented in our lifetime.”
The MZWP has always been a bone of contention with various stakeholders including the government blaming each other for its failure.
The initiative by the civic groups comes barely a week after Nkomo claimed that Zanu PF and President Robert Mugabe were guilty for failing to ensure that the project was a success.