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Tsvangirai backs water project

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Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday pledged the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP) would be given priority to address the perennial water shortages in the region.

Officially launching the $50 million Rural Water and Sanitation Hygiene (Wash) programme in Tsholotsho, Tsvangirai said during his recent visit to China, numerous potential investors had assured Water Resources minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo of their willingness to partner government in the project.

“In my visit to China, I and Minister Nkomo spoke to a number of Chinese investors willing to partner in the MZWP. It is a national project and we should give it national priority like any other national project,” he said.

“As a country we cannot pay lip service to the MZWP and Kunzvi projects that would transform lives of people.”

The Kunzvi Dam project, on the drawing board since the 1980s, is meant to augment the diminishing water supply to Harare.

“This region will embark on a green revolution if the project is completed,” the Premier said.

Tsvangirai pointed out that he was once asked by an Israeli national why Zimbabwe was suffering when it had so much water.

He said Israel had turned its desert into a greenbelt utilising underground water only.

“Our commitment is to make sure that each province feeds itself, so that we reach the $1 billion economy in 30 years,” he said.

“This is the vision we want to achieve and we can achieve these targets if we have water.”

Tsvangirai said the project would provide a number of jobs and also create a green belt in the region.

Later speaking at a Press conference, Tsvangirai emphasised that the MZWP was a huge undertaking deserving everyone’s support.

The PM said the deadline for the completion of the Mtshabezi-Umzingwane pipeline link had been missed because of the delays by the State Procurement Board in making a resolution to acquire pumps for the project.

The pipeline is meant to alleviate the water shortages in Bulawayo.

Tsvangirai said he had spoken to Finance minister Tendai Biti to revisit the procurement process and relax some of the processes that led to the delays in the government tender system.

He said it was befitting that the Wash programme was launched in Matabeleland because of the region’s perennial water shortages.

Speaking at the same event, Sipepa Nkomo said they would be launching the MZWP advisory council at the beginning of next month signifying the start of the project’s implementation.

He said some Chinese companies taking part in the project were in the country to finalise the modalities.

Nkomo said the Wash programme would benefit five provinces, namely Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Midlands, Masvingo and Mashonaland West, targeting up to 10 000 rural communities and 1 500 schools.

He said the project was expected to reach out to 4 million people.

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