Source: Patrick Chinamasa and Joseph Made in dam scandal | The Financial Gazette May 4, 2017
FINANCE and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa has been caught up in a potentially explosive furore over possible conflict of interest in which the allocation of US$5 million for the construction of Causeway Dam in which he and a Cabinet colleague, Joseph Made, will be among the beneficiaries.
To be constructed along the Macheke River in Manicaland Province, Causeway Dam secured funding in the 2017 National Budget ahead of more deserving projects that have been outstanding for many years owing to budgetary constraints.
While the official line is that the dam will supply water to Marondera University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, many kilometres away in Mashonaland East, the interesting thing is that it will directly benefit Chinamasa, who is the head of Treasury, and Made, his counterpart at the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development.
Made’s mandate in Cabinet is that of providing technical, extension, advisory, regulatory, and administrative services to the agricultural sector to achieve food security and economic development.
Chinamasa and Made command critical economic ministries with the latter presiding over what is referred to as “the mainstay of the country’s economy”, while the former is in charge of the allocation of government resources.
Chinamasa owns Lawrencedale Farm, while Made runs Tara Farm. Both are close to the Causeway Dam project. Insiders at the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) alleged conflict of interest on the part of the two government officials, saying Causeway Dam had been prioritised because it was directly benefiting their farms.
ZINWA is a wholly government-owned parastatal tasked with managing the country’s water resources. It was created through the ZINWA Act as part of government’s efforts to reform the country’s water sector.
Sources said construction work has already started at Causeway Dam, with Chinese firm — China Nanchung — having been paid to expedite the project. ZINWA has since moved five senior dam engineers to the site who are helping with technical issues.
“They (engineers) were presented with their project vehicles about three weeks ago and are now busy on the site. They got a Toyota Hilux D4D truck each, which were purchased using part of the money,” said an insider at ZINWA. “The dam will not benefit communities; it will benefit the ministers”.
Other sources said Made had been closely following progress on the dam project and had frequently visited ZINWA’s designs offices in Harare to make inquiries about Causeway Dam. ZINWA public relations manager, Marjorie Munyonga, declined to entertain questions on the issue and referred this reporter to the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate.
Prince Mupazviriho, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate, said while Made and Chinamasa would be the major beneficiaries, it was simply because of their proximity to the project.
“We look at where the primary water demand is and look at our programmes in terms of planned dams in all the districts. The primary beneficiary would be the Marondera University of Agriculture, which will soon be established and for that to happen, the dam has to be there,” he said.
“The same happened in Matabeleland North during the establishment of the Lupane State University. So it is that anticipated development, which necessitated the construction of the dam”.
Marondera University of Agriculture was gazetted in 2014 and is yet to take shape. Ironically, the university will be situated close to a much bigger reservoir, Wenimbi Dam, which harvests water in excess to the requirements of Marondera town.
In fact, the institution of higher learning was sited having taken into consideration the many other smaller dams dotted around the prime farming area from which it can draw water. Mupazviriho said the two government officials only happened to be farming closer to the dam site, notwithstanding that it was miles away from Marondera University of Agriculture in Mashonaland East province.
“If you are in a farming area, you will naturally benefit but the primary objective was never to build it for specific people. We were not inspired by that,” he said.
In the 2017 National Budget, Chinamasa did not allocate resources to other dam projects across the country, making Causeway Dam the only one to get a vote from the fiscus ahead of other projects such as Kunzvi and Musami dams that have been on the cards for much longer.
Kunzvi and Musami, which where not included in the 2017 National Budget, were identified in the 1950s as the lasting solution to Harare’s perennial water woes, but construction has failed to take place due to inadequate funding.
Government has seven dam projects under the ZINWA vote; the upgrading of a 12-kilometre(km) road access to Tokwe-Mukosi Dam and maintenance of existing dams.
About US$2 million was budgeted for the Mutange Dam in Gokwe, in the Midlands province and US$3,7 million for the long-awaited Gwayi-Shangani Dam in Matabeleland North province. Another US$8 million was budgeted for Marovanyati Dam in Buhera, whereas the upgrading of the 12km access road to the recently constructed Tokwe-Mukosi Dam was budgeted at US$4,5 million.
Asked to explain why Causeway Dam was prioritised ahead of other more pressing projects, Mupazviriho said the money released by Treasury was not enough for other projects.
“Only US$5 million was availed and we looked at our projects and realised it could cover a lot of work in this project rather than invest it in a project which will need, say, US$100 million. It did not make any sense to us to avail the money into a project where it can only cover a fraction of the job instead of a project where it can go a long way,” he said.
Speaking to the Financial Gazette from Durban, South Africa, where he is attending the World Economic Forum, Chinamasa denied that the dam would benefit him and Made alone, saying they already have enough water which they are drawing from Speed Dam.
“The suggestion that the dam is set to benefit individuals is not true, wherever such information is coming from. The truth is that Dr Made and I are neighbours and we get our irrigation water from Speed Dam. We have been there since 2003; we have enough water and we don’t need more,” said Chinamasa, who also argued that the project had to be prioritised for funding because “it would kill three birds”.
“The dam will supply water to the Marondera University of Agricultural Sciences as well as benefit a small-scale irrigation scheme, which will be established on the Mashonaland East side. It will also supply water to the Makoni campus of the Manicaland State University when it is eventually established. What you also need to know is that a large portion of Dr Made’s farm will actually be submerged by the dam; so he is set to lose rather than benefit from it,” he said, adding that its 18-km throwback would benefit farmers on either side.
Minister Made was not responding to calls to his cell- phones yesterday. His deputy, Paddy Zhanda, refused to comment, referring all questions to Made.