Gwayi-Shangani Dam phase 1 commissioning stalls 

Source: Gwayi-Shangani Dam phase 1 commissioning stalls – NewsDay Zimbabwe

COMMISSIONING of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam is unlikely to take place this year after a government evaluation team which visited recently to access progress reportedly said it was unlikely that phase one of the project would be complete by year end.

Gwayi-Shangani Dam construction has been mired in controversy as the project is set to displace around 2 000 Lubimbi villagers in Binga to pave way for its construction. The victims were not consulted.

Lubimbi villagers yesterday told Southern Eye that the government evaluation team advised them that the dam would not be completed this year.

“The evaluation team told us that the bottom outlets of the dam will not be sealed this year, hence people should not be anxious or have fear of floods. They said for this year the dam levels will remain at 20 metres, while the other side would be 16 metres,” a villager said.

Lubimbi ward councillor Chrispen Munkuli said the delay in the completion of phase one of the dam would enable government to properly relocate people who will be displaced.

“Government should identify the land for relocating the affected people before the commissioning of the dam,” Munkuli said.

Dam committee chairperson Edmond Sibanda said government should mobilise enough funds for relocation of villagers.

“The advantages of the delays to complete the dam are that the government will have time to identify suitable land to relocate villagers,” he said.

“Government should mobilise enough funds to support proper establishment of infrastructure, especially houses, water points, schools, health centres and other facilities.”

Zimbabwe National Water Authority spokesperson Marjorie Munyonga said she would issue a statement to Southern Eye once she got the full information on the commissioning of the dam.

The Gwayi-Shangani project, which is part of the Zambezi Water Project, is scheduled to be completed in December 2022.

Its construction has attracted a lot of tension, with Bulawayo residents on Monday saying they were not keen to get water from the Gwayi-Shangani Dam, if it will displace villagers.

During a solidarity meeting organised by the Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR), Bulawayo residents said accepting water from the project was tantamount to bringing haunted water to their city since the dam would displace villagers without compensation.

Khethiwe Tshuma of Entumbane said: “We were not aware that this project will cost other people’s livelihoods. What about the graves of their departed loved ones and their umbilical cords? We are a cultured nation and cannot be happy to receive water from Binga while the displaced villagers are shedding tears, we do not want haunted water.”

Albert Muleya, an affected villager in Lubimbi, said his father was displaced without compensation 65 years ago to pave way for the construction of Kariba Dam.

“We only learnt about the displacements last week from a government official, but we have not been told where we will be going,’’ he said.

MIHR co-ordinator Khumbulani Maphosa said government should revisit the Kampala Convention that addresses internal displacement.

“The convention is clear that you do not evict people towards a census, school examinations or elections. Government should consider cultural values and farming since we are towards the farming season,’’ he said.