Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion chairperson Paddy Zhanda caused a stir in Bulawayo on Wednesday after he blocked contributions aimed at addressing the city’s water woes during a 2013 National Budget consultative meeting at the Small City Hall.
Report by Nqobile Bhebhe
The 60 residents in attendance were angered by Zhanda’s stance and maintained that the water crisis be factored into the National Budget since it was unique and required government attention.
“If everyone mentions water issues affecting Bulawayo, that won’t change anything. Let’s move on to other issues,” Zhanda said, drawing the ire of residents who accused the Zanu PF Goromonzi MP of trivialising the issue.
‘‘I found his (Zhanda’s) intervention out of order as it showed the Bulawayo water crisis is not being taken seriously. Why did he not intervene when a contribution on sanitary wear and student grants was being made?” queried a resident, who identified himself as Tshuma.
Bulawayo City Council finance director Kempton Ndimande intervened and described the water crisis as a major issue.
Ndimande said $17 million was required to duplicate the water pipeline from Insiza Dam to the city’s waterworks.
“The water situation now requires urgent attention as we are almost dry. But with government efforts, several solutions can be implemented. About $17 million is needed to duplicate the water pipe from Insiza to the waterworks,” Ndimande said.
Bulawayo recently introduced a 72-hour water-shedding regime to conserve dwindling supplies.
The city now relies on three supply dams after two others were decommissioned after running dry. According to council, as of October 10, the remaining dams —Insiza, Inyakuni and Lower Ncema — were 40,49% full.
On other contributions, residents said there was need to scale up allocation of resources to agriculture, health, education and social welfare and trim allocations to defence. Matabeleland Livestock Initiative representative Sifiso Sibanda said government should also avail resources to livestock farming in the same way it did to crops.
“Our livelihood in Matabeleland is largely dependent on livestock, but we are not being catered for unlike crop farmers. We call for the agriculture vote to be split into the crop section and livestock,” Sibanda said.
Other residents called for the construction of a third referral hospital in Bulawayo to ease the burden on Mpilo Central Hospital and United Bulawayo Hospitals, which were reportedly struggling to cope with demand. The residents also urged government to provide more funds to expedite the completion of Joshua Nkomo International Airport, which has remained unfinished for close to 10 years.
Meanwhile, another public hearing was scheduled to be held in Gwanda yesterday afternoon before the team moved to Lupane Community Hall in Matabeleland North today and Chinotimba Hall in Victoria Falls tomorrow.
The public hearings are being conducted in terms of Section 28 (5) of the Public Finance Management Act. They are aimed at ensuring that people give Parliament adequate information before Finance minister Tendai Biti presents the fiscal statement mid-November.