BY SILAS NKALA
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) says it is legally impossible to give Bulawayo the responsibility to build its own dams to solve the perennial water shortages.
Zinwa made the remarks in response to a petition by the Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights, which demanded that the authority gives the city permission to find alternative water sources.
Bulawayo City Council has over the years argued that its six supply dams have become too small for the growing population, causing a serious deficit in water supplies.
Since early last year, the local authority has been implementing a tight water-rationing programme where residents have running water once a week after at least three supply dams dried up.
Council promised to review the water-rationing regime at the end of last month after significant inflows into the dams this rainy season.
The review is yet to happen and activists are demanding a long-term solution to the water crisis, including allowing the local authority to build more dams.
Marjorie Munyonga, Zinwa spokesperson, said council was still in charge of the dams it constructed.
“It is also quite pertinent to note that (Bulawayo) still retained the management and control of the dams it built, namely Upper Ncema, Lower Ncema and Mzingwane in the same manner the City of Harare has retained its rights over Lake Chivero,” Munyonga said.
“The other point to note is that other water resources, which supply water to Bulawayo such as Nyamandlovu and Epping Forest are under the jurisdiction of Umguza Rural District Council, hence only a national water authority can have control over them since it is not permissible for one local authority to control a resource outside its own jurisdiction.”
Bulawayo city fathers have in the past called for the review of the Water Act to allow council to construct its own dams.
Five of the city’s six supply dams were built before independence with Mtshabezi Dam only added into the matrix a few years ago.
The government says the long-awaited Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project will provide a permanent solution to the city’s water problems.