Bulawayo residents have expressed concern over the slow progress in implementing the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP), which has been touted as the answer to the region’s water crisis.
BY NIZBERT MOYO
MZWP is an ambitious project to draw water from the Zambezi River to Bulawayo and parts of Matabeleland North Province to end the perennial water shortages bedevilling Zimbabwe’s second city.
This comes as Bulawayo City Council recently introduced a 36-hour water-rationing programme.
The project was first mooted in 1912.
Residents told Southern Eye last week that the project has taken too long to impliment.
“We demand answers from (President Emmerson) Mnangagwa, how can we develop in the region when there is no water? This is one of the reasons why some of the youth were involved in looting because they are frustrated with failure to secure jobs. They are graduates, but are not working. Some of them are now 35 years old and they have no hope that they will ever be employed in their lifetime,’’ Smile Ndlovu said.
Residents believe that bringing water from the Zambezi River has the capacity to revive industry in the province.
Another resident said the government should honour its promises and implement devolution as a matter of urgency.
“People have spoken; it is there in the Constitution. They want devolution like yesterday to push the country forward, but this has fallen on deaf ears,” he said.
However, Matabeleland Zambezi Water Trust chief executive officer Sarah Ndhlovu said a third of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam has been completed so far.
“In terms of scale, the entire project is still in its initial stages as only 10% has been completed thus far. If the funds are obtained and no stoppages are experienced, it is anticipated that the project can be completed in three to five years,” she said.
“To complete the phase linking Bulawayo to the Zambezi River, including the Gwayi-Shangani Dam, an amount of $3 billion to $3,2 billion is needed. The current allocation by government is $23 million. To date, expenditure on the project is estimated at $20 million.”
The role of the trust has been to gather funds for the project and to interface with various stakeholders.
The trust, launched in 1993 as a Matabeleland action group – initially made up of legislators, ministers of both Matabeleland North and South and the mayor of Bulawayo has reactivated the debate of bringing water to the drought-prone region.