Mashonaland Central Bureau
Officials in Mashonaland Central Province have set up a technical committee to look into the heavy siltation of Mazowe Dam, a major source of water and the pride of the province, which is now being affected by activities of illegal gold miners who have invaded its basin.
Illegal settlers have also set up a village in the dam’s basin and they have already started land preparations for this year’s farming season.
Mining companies have set up camp and several mine shafts have been dug in the basin of the dam, a development that will increase the rate of siltation when the rains start.
The dam has a carrying capacity of 39 357 mega litres of water, but now it is down to 8 500 mega litres or 21 percent full.
Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Senator Monica Mavhunga announced the setting up of the committee during a visit to the dam recently.
She said there was need for a lasting solution to the siltation problem at the dam because farmers relied on it for irrigation.
Minister Mavhunga requested the Upper Mazowe sub-catchment council to submit a report on the activities contributing to siltation of the dam.
Upper Mazowe Sub-catchment council chairman Mr Fleming Dhlamini said riverbed mining had become a headache and proper mining procedures should be followed.
He said a mine should operate at least a minimum of 500 metres from the high flood level of the dam.
“We are also advocating for the construction of weir dams, which will ensure that farmers harvest a lot of water for irrigation purposes,” said Mr Dhlamini. “We have farmers who planted winter wheat, but are now failing to irrigate their crop, which is at its final stage of ripening, because Mazowe Dam can no longer support commercial use.
“We are anticipating good rains this year and there is a need to desilt the dam to increase its carrying capacity.
“Those granted special mining grants along the river must approach the Upper Mazowe sub-catchment council for guidelines on how to operate sustainably.”
ZINWA catchment manager Engineer Colleta Tundu said Mazowe Dam was managed by Mazowe Citrus and was gazetted after 2018.
The dam spilled in 2001 and 2018.
ZINWA has not yet conducted a silt survey for the dam and Eng Tundu was not sure whether or not a survey was done by Mazowe Citrus.
She said the de-siltation process was expensive and advised the province to come up with a plan on how to use soil from de-siltation either for brick making or rehabilitating pits.
Mr Stansclous Everisto Zenda, chairman of a fishing co-operative, who has been residing at the dam since 2010, said due to climate change and low rainfall patterns, there hasn’t been enough rains to fill the dam to its full capacity.
He said the dam was last full in 2015.
“The dam is shallow and it has an anthill in its basin,” said Mr Zenda.
“Last year we didn’t receive good rains and the dam did not fill up. Streams of its tributaries which are Kasura, Nyanhombo and Mazowe Rivers are still intact. I don’t think anything changed besides climate change.
“This has negatively affected our work. People from the community who are conducting illegal fishing activities have also infested the river.”
Mr Zenda said his co-operative had 10 members and they wished to do fish farming in ponds at the outskirts of the dam, a proposal which was turned down by Mazowe Rural District Council.