TREASURY has not yet released the $10 million budgeted to kick-start the initial construction phase of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam, a major component of the long-awaited Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP), casting doubts on government’s commitment to the project.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
MZWP was mooted in 1912 as the long-term solution to Bulawayo’s water crisis, but has largely remained pie in the sky, as successive governments before and after independence have kept shifting goalposts.
In 2012, then Water Affairs minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo announced that the government had secured $864 million from the Chinese Export Import Bank to complete the project.
At the time, Nkomo predicted the project would be completed within three years.
However, Environment, Water and Climate ministry permanent secretary Prince Mupazviriho told Parliament on Tuesday that government was still mobilising resources for the project.
“We are still in the process of sourcing funding for the project. As government, we have got some resources that we are using for preliminary works,” he said.
“We think anytime now we should be doing something.”
The project will cost $1 billion, according to Mupazviriho.
Zanu PF, through its economic blueprint ZimAsset, promised that the MZWP would be completed by 2018.
Bulawayo has been facing perennial water shortages for many decades because the five supply dams built before Independence, can no longer adequately support the city’s growing population.
The MZWP will be implemented in phases, with the first stage being the completion of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam, which would receive water from the Zambezi River.
The second phase would see the construction of a pipeline from Gwayi-Shangani Dam to a reservoir in Bulawayo’s Cowdray Park suburb.
Phase three would consist of the construction of a 245km pipeline from the Zambezi River to the Gwayi-Shangani Dam.