BY NIZBERT MOYO
THE Matabeleland Zambezi Water Trust (MZWT), a technical partner in the ambitious project to draw water from the Zambezi River to Bulawayo, has accused government of frustrating its efforts to woo private investors to fund the long awaited venture.
Phanuel Sibanda, an MZWT board member claimed that the government was refusing to release coal and gas concessions that fall on the pipeline — a key demand of investors — in the process frustrating investment.
“The project was conceptualised by people from Bulawayo but it has been moved from the owners to other administrators,” Sibanda said.
“We are struggling to get back the project where it belongs.
“Government is also struggling to get the Gwayi-Shangani Dam constructed.
“We have been promised funding since time long back only that the government has been refusing to release coal and gas concessions to guarantee the funding.
“Developmental issues should be above politics and other social disparities.”
The MZWP was mooted way back in 2012, but there has been little movement towards its completion to bring to end recurring water shortages bedevilling the country’s second city, Bulawayo.
Last week, Finance and Economic Development minister Mthuli Ncube allocated $400 million for the Gwayi-Shangani Dam project, which is a key component of the MZWP.
The government in April handed back the MZWP to the Matabeleland Collective, a grouping of civic society groups in the region, and its technical partner the MZWT.
In 2012, the government had forcibly grabbed the project and nationalised it after threatening to speed up the project but with no success.
The MZWP is viewed as the permanent solution to Bulawayo’s perennial water shortages as demand continues to outstrip demand.
Bulawayo is facing acute water shortages owing to a poor rainfall during the 2018/19 season.