Govt releases funds for Gwayi-Shangani Dam

YOU know you are heading for an election season when the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP) starts featuring in the news and true to form with polls scheduled for next year, the government says it has disbursed $21 million for the construction of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam, which is seen as the first step towards the ambitious water scheme.

By Own Correspondent

Environment, Water and Climate minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri

Environment, Water and Climate minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri

And for good measure, the authorities say another $30m will go towards the rehabilitation of waste water facilities in 14 small towns.

Environment, Water and Climate minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri on Thursday said some of the money was used to purchase equipment for efficient and timely billing systems to improve operations of small towns.

She was addressing a gathering at Dulivhadzimo Stadium after the commissioning of the Beitbridge Water Plant, where she said work on the Gwayi-Shangani Dam had resumed.

“Government has already disbursed $21,7 million towards outstanding amounts,” Muchinguri-Kashiri said.

“I am reliably informed work has resumed in earnest.”

MZWP is touted as the panacea for the country’s parched western and southern provinces and it is also said it will provide a greenbelt along its route.

The project was first mooted in 1912, but more than 100 years later, there is still no movement.

Some work has gone into the building of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam, with construction usually peaking just before an election, before dying down almost immediately after the vote.

Muchinguri-Kashiri said Zvishavane, Chiredzi, Chipinge, Chirundu, Chivhu, Shurugwi, Gwanda, Mutoko, Hwange and other small towns would benefit from the $30m sourced by the government under the Small Towns Water and Sanitation Project.

She said the project had gone beyond just rehabilitation to improved operational efficiencies for water distribution, sewerage collections and capacity building for small towns.

“To cap it all, information communication technology equipment and modern billing systems were also installed to make bills accurate and timely,” Muchinguri-Kashiri said.

Most small towns in Zimbabwe are reeling from financial problems, as residents live from hand to mouth in a country where unemployment has risen to 90%.

Zimbabweans in large and small towns are failing to pay utility bills and some municipalities have resorted to auctioning residents’ properties to get what they are owed.