George Maponga in Masvingo
Masvingo province is using Tugwi-Mukosi Dam as a major source of economic growth with a new town poised to be developed following completion of the water body’s development master plan.
Tugwi-Mukosi is the largest interior water body in Zimbabwe and boasts vast irrigation potential while opportunities also exist to develop a vibrant tourism industry in and around the dam.
A 15 megawatt mini hydro power plant is also in the offing at Tugwi-Mukosi enough for some of the needs of new development around the dam.
Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Ezra Chadzamira noted that the province was on the cusp of meteoric economic growth.
He said Vision 2030 targets set by President Mnangagwa’s administration were set to be met in the province with the new dispensation’s Transitional Stabilisation Programme having put Masvingo on a solid footing.
Tugwi-Mukosi was inaugurated in May 2017 and the new dispensation has completed the dam’s development masterplan that will pave way for full exploitation of the water body. The development plan will be tabled before Cabinet in the near future.
Minister Chadzamira said the National Development Strategy(NDS 1) would consolidate gains made under the ongoing drive to grow the economy and make Zimbabwe an upper middle income society by 2030.
“The province will have its second city at Tugwi-Mukosi because of the vast potential that water body possesses in various economic spheres and we are happy that work on the dam’s masterplan has now been concluded and this will pave way for a lot of developments in and around the dam.”
“The new city is coming at Tugwi-Mukosi and we are hoping to have our own town like Kariba here, because hotels and holiday homes are also planned on some of the scenic islands in the water body. “
The minister said besides tourism opportunities that will also be accentuate by a planned game park in the dam’s buffer zone, a vibrant fisheries industry would emerge at Tugwi-Mukosi. Fish breeding is already underway at the dam, with the Government and some private companies involved in the venture.
In the near future land for residential purposes will be on offer at Tugwi-Mukosi which will speed up transformation of the place into a city or town. There is land that will also be reserved for shopping malls around that and a lot of investment will come in and around the Tugwi-Mukosi area, said Minister Chadzamira.
Advances in irrigation technology means the initial 25 000 hectares could be irrigated with Tugwi-Mukosi water would almost be doubled in a boon for Masvingo’s drive to be the nation’s irrigation hub.
Vast swathes of the Lowveld and areas surrounding Tugwi-Mukosi will be turned into an expansive greenbelt and this will attract agro-processing and financial institutions into to the area.
The minister paid tribute to the Government for completing the dam’s development masterplan which was the missing link in the nation’s quest to gain benefits from the water body that has largely remained underused.
“We are on course as a province to meet our goals to grow our GDP under NDS 1 and ultimately NDS2 that will take us to 2030. Our irrigation potential as a province is so huge because we are home to 60 percent of the country’s water bodies.”
Minister Chadzamira said both Tugwi-Mukosi and Lake Mutirikwi would be optimally used to develop new and expand existing irrigation schemes in the short to medium term.
The coming on board of Tugwi-Mukosi means Muzhwi Dam water in Chivi can be used to irrigate dry areas in that district while also feasibility studies for water pipeline to Mushandike are underway.
“Tugwi-Mukosi also freed up more water in Lake Mutirikwi which we now intend to use to develop the 4 000ha Mutilikwe irrigation greenbelt in north East Masvingo district and the feasibility study is underway so for us as a province Tugwi-Mukosi is a real game changer as we aim at Vision 2030,” said Minister Chadzamira.
Tugwi-Mukosi water is also already proving handy for the Lowveld sugar industry, with new cane fields being opened while existing ones are under expansion in the wake of improved water supplies for irrigation.
Sugar producer Tongaat Hulette Zimbabwe is developing 4 000ha of virgin land into cane fields for allocation to landless local farming families on a cost-recovery basis and Minister Chadzamira noted this project was also reliant on Tugwi-Mukosi water.
Within the next decade, Minister Chadzamira said the integrated Lowveld Irrigation Plan conceived by Government envisages putting about 70 000ha under irrigation across the Lowveld, stretching from Chiredzi to the east and Rutenga to the west.
Tugwi-Mukosi’s completion has already breathed life in surrounding urban settlements like Ngundu and Chivi turn-off, with the latter already fancying plans to become the country’s first smart city.
Construction of Tugwi-Mukosi took almost 17 years and the dam was built by an Italian contractor, Salini Impegilio, at a cost of over US$250 million.