Govt fails to deliver on Gwayi-Shangani Dam, again

The Gwayi-Shangani Dam is being constructed by Zinwa in partnership with a Chinese contractor.


The government has yet again missed its December deadline to complete the Gwayi-Shangani dam project, which is expected to bring a long lasting solution to Bulawayo’s water woes.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government had initially said the dam, which is expected to be the third-largest inland water body in Zimbabwe, would have been completed in December last year.

It is part of the greater Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP) that was identified in 1912 as a long-term solution to the perennial water challenges faced in Matabeleland.

After missing the December 2022 deadline, Lands, Agriculture and Water minister Anxious Masuka said the gigantic Lake Gwayi-Shangani would be completed ahead of the 2023/24 summer cropping season.

Ahead of the disputed August elections, construction workers were working round the clock as the government sought to present the project as a sign of its capacity to deliver on major projects.

However, Southern Eye Sunday heard that construction work slowed down after August.

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association secretary for administration Thembelani Dube said they were worried that the project would never come to fruition.

“The completion of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam has of late been moving at a snail's pace compared to the speed at which it was moving pre-2023 harmonised elections,” Dube said.

“As Bulawayo residents we had pinned our hopes on the massive water body project to alleviate the perennial water challenges in Bulawayo.

“We urge the government to pool all resources to expedite the completion of the decades-long outstanding project.” Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) spokesperson Marjorie Munyong  said the project was now 70.2% complete.

The Bulawayo council recently introduced a water shedding regime due to dwindling levels at the city’s supply dams.

According to Bulawayo mayor David Coltart the city’s supply dams were 44%  full as of December 1, underlining the water crisis.

Bulawayo United Resident Association chairperson Winos Dube called upon the government to show seriousness about the MZWP.

 “The government keeps on changing goal posts; we need seriousness,” Dube said.

“We call upon people from this region to speak in one voice including the leadership to make sure that this project comes to fruition.

“The 120 hours of water shedding that was introduced is very painful especially looking at a situation where we have a cholera outbreak.”

Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights coordinator Khumbulani Maphosa said it was the duty of the government to ensure citizens enjoy their rights to water.

“As an organisation we are also worried about the compensation of the people of Lubimbi that are going to be affected, we do not want people of Bulawayo to drink water at the expense of the Lubimbi and the Tonga villagers,” Maphosa added. About 502 families will be relocated to pave way for the construction of the Gwayi-Shangani dam.

“We want justice to prevail; this is the chance for the minister of Finance Mthuli Ncube to announce a proper compensation package,” Maphosa said.

He said Bulawayo residents needed to start debating now what the cost of the water from the new dam would be when the water eventually reaches the city.

“It is futile and useless to be celebrating Lake Gwayi Shangani without looking at the cost of water,’’ Maphosa added.

The MZWP was first mooted in 1912. The Gwayi-Shangani Dam is being constructed by Zinwa in partnership with a Chinese contractor.

Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution minister Richard Moyo said resource challenges were slowing down the project.

“Work is in progress,” Moyo said.

“However, shortages of resources are affecting the pace of the project.

“We are now targeting to complete the project by the first quarter of next year.”

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