Civil society groups on Thursday launched a Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP) petition that seeks to compel the government to prioritise the water project that has been on the cards for the past 100 years.
The groups include Shalom Project, Habakkuk Trust, Intsha.com, Radio Dialogue, Churches in Bulawayo and the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (Nango) Western Region.
At the launch, the chairperson of the steering committee Anglistone Sibanda said the campaign sought to bring urgency into the project.
“The MZWP idea turns 100 years today and it is still viewed as a panacea to the region’s water problems,” he said.
“We have therefore started a campaign to raise people’s awareness around this issue.
“On the sidelines of all the other activities, there is a petition that is circulating and we have the same petition on line.
“We have also created a Facebook page under the name of 100 Years of A Pipedream,” he said.
Sibanda said the petition had six demands that were directed at the government.
“Our first demand is that the minister of Water Resources Development and Management declares Matabeleland a water crisis area.
He said this would help “open doors for interventions on the water problems in the region” and attract investment.
“In the past when we engaged him on this, his argument was that it would scare away investors.
“However, Botswana has declared that it is a water problem area, but that has not scared away investors.
“In fact, it has attracted a lot of investment into the water projects.”
Sibanda said they were demanding that government treats the MZWP as a development priority. He said civil society would also lobby government to review the Water Act and the Zinwa Act to allow private investors to invest in water infrastructure.