Govt, councils must prioritise water provision

EDITORIAL

WATER is life, so goes the old adage. Its scarcity spells doom. So it goes without saying that government should consider water provision as one of its top priorities.

Despite the critical nature of water, it is however, sad to note that several local authorities, among them Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Gwanda and Chitungwiza, to mention but a few, are currently reeling under severe water shortages and we believe it’s irresponsible for leaders to play politics over this life-saving resource.

Bulawayo residents have now grown weary of the falsehood that their perennial water shortages would “soon” be a thing of the past as successive Zanu PF governments always promise to
implement the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP). The lies are given fresh impetus each time we draw closer to an election with the momentum dying down soon after.

Gwanda and Gweru have also had their fair share of this shameless promise from our politicians.

Harare has had the same narrative with talk of Kunzvi Dam resurfacing each time there is a looming general election. For decades, residents have been told that solutions to Harare’s
water woes lay east of the capital along Nyaguwi River in Goromonzi district. We have been sold this dummy of a story through many activities that included ground-breaking ceremonies and awarding of contracts to some Chinese companies who camped, or are still camped at the Kunzwi Dam site. Thousands of villagers were also relocated from the dam’s vicinity in
preparation for construction, but up to this very day nothing much has happened.

We really get worried when we start hearing that the Harare City Council (HCC) is now busy talking to some Turkish investors with the view to build, on a build-operate-transfer basis, a
new dam, south of the capital, through a special purpose vehicle, Independent Water Provider.

The council hopes to get Cabinet approval for the construction of Muda Dam at a cost of US$3,2 billion.

We are not against these initiatives at all if they are meant to ease the capital city’s unending water woes. But we take exception when our city fathers and government keep going in
circles over this issue. What has now happened to Kunzwi? Should we forget about it? What are the problems at Kunzwi that have informed HCC and government to take them this long to
build that dam? Similar questions can be asked of the MZWP, which has been an on-off since the Rhodesian era.

We are now beginning to doubt if government is serious about solving water problems facing Harare and other urban areas. We would have thought that if it was serious at all the water
sources to the country’s urban areas should be supplying water by now.

We are very much aware that politics and corruption have played a very big role, but if the Zanu PF government is a people’s government it should quickly act on this critical issue. It should not matter whether or not the people in the cities voted for Zanu PF, the government of the day should simply do what it is supposed to do.

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