THE Bulawayo city council, concerned about stagnation in the construction of the much-awaited Gwayi-Shangani dam, wants a meeting with Water Resources minister Joyce Mujuru to explain the lack o
f movement on the first phase of the ambitious water project.
The council’s Future Water Supplies and Water Action Committee at its meeting last month recommended that the minister be called to Bulawayo to address councillors on the issue.
The councillors said the Bulawayo council was a key stakeholder in the project despite efforts by government and the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Trust (MZWT) to sideline the local authority.
Contributing during the committee’s debate Alderman Charles Mpofu suggested that Mujuru be invited as a matter of urgency to explain to the council the fate of the stalled project.
The idea to draw water from the Zambezi River on the border with Zambia to drought-prone Matabeleland was first mooted in 1923 and has been deferred by successive governments, citing costs. The Zanu PF government has always brought up the issue each time it faces a critical election in which Matabeleland is a major factor.
Bulawayo executive mayor Japhet Ndabeni Ncube confirmed to the Zimbabwe Independent this week that council wanted the minister to discuss with councillors the status of the whole project.
“This is a courtesy invitation to the minister to come and brief councillors on the progress and status of the project since the government through the Zimbabwe National Water Authority is now in charge of the project. We want to know where council stands,” Ncube said.
“We want the minister to inform us officially that the government is now in charge of the project and also brief us on what happens to organisations that bought shares in the MZWT over a decade ago,” said Ncube.
The Bulawayo council is the designated implementer of the project. Government at the beginning of the year announced that it had taken over implementation of the project and released about $2 billion to kick-start it.