WATER Resources Development and Management minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo has implored government to channel revenue generated from diamond sales towards public infrastructure development, particularly water.
Report by Khanyile Mlotshwa Staff Reporter
Addressing the Ideas Festival organised by the Bulawayo Agenda last Friday, Nkomo said diamond money could be “usefully” invested in water infrastructure for the benefit of the whole country instead of it lining the pockets of a few “fat cats”.
“The Zimbabwean government is broke. I am just from Botswana and they are very much advanced. We were at Jwaneng where there is one of the biggest diamond mines in the world. The government and De Beers own 50% each and the country has benefited a lot from that arrangement,” Nkomo said.
“In Zimbabwe, even though we have diamonds, we don’t know where the money is going. We could be better off with the diamonds. If the money were to be invested in water infrastructure, everyone would benefit. We are just seeing some people getting rich.”
Bulawayo is grappling with its worst water crisis in years and part of it has been attributed to erratic rains and poor infrastructure such as old pipes that suffer recurrent bursts and leaks.
“Sixty-five percent of the water and sewer pipes are as old as 40 years, meaning the infrastructure is now old and at some places the pipelines are rotting. Some of the water has been lost to leakages.”
Nkomo was part of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s entourage that toured Botswana last week.
On Thursday, Tsvangirai praised Botswana for being transparent in its diamond mining industry which he said had transformed many lives in that country, while in Zimbabwe the discovery of the precious mineral had literally turned into a curse.
In July, at the official opening of the Mine Entra in Bulawayo, Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu said Cabinet ministers had no right to demand accountability on proceeds from the mining industry because they had not made any meaningful investments towards reviving the sector.