BY SILAS NKALA
GOVERNMENT has resumed work at the Bulawayo to Gwayi-Shangani Dam pipeline following pressure from Bulawayo residents, the Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) and the Bulawayo Water Action Group (Buwa).
This was confirmed yesterday by Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) spokesperson Marjorie Munyonga, who said Lands minister Anxious Masuka on Friday toured the Gwayi-Shangani Dam site, where the construction of the 260-kilometre long pipeline that will draw water to Bulawayo will commence.
“Zinwa is currently engaged in the preliminary activities that should pave way for the smooth commencement of the construction work later in the year. These activities include the preparations for a ground-breaking ceremony. This follows the allocation of $535m for the construction of the pipeline by Treasury in the 2021 budget. The pipeline marks the second phase of the implementation of the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project whose first phase was the construction of Gwayi- Shangani Dam.”
Munyonga said Masuka also toured the Epping Forest project carried out by Zinwa to help improve the water situation in Bulawayo.
The MIHR had petitioned Zinwa last week over the delays in the completion of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam.
“In April 2020, we established a vision that we want ‘safe, clean and affordable water for all’ residents of Bulawayo. We then agreed to form a non-violent social movement to push this vision and we called it the Bulawayo Water Action,” MIHR co-ordinator Khumbulani Maphosa said.
“We have done a lot of nonviolent actions and we have achieved a lot towards the progressive realisation of the vision. On January 25, we began a nine-week #MondayWaterAction campaign, which ends on March 22 (the World Water Day). It has seen us protesting online against Zinwa’s slow pace of finishing some key water projects.”
Maphosa said the protests had forced the government to resume work on the Gwayi-Shangani Dam and Epping Forest project.
He said Zinwa had promised that the dam would begin dispensing water to Bulawayo by the end of this year.
Bulawayo mayor Solomon Mguni has already announced plans to gradually suspend the 144-hour water-shedding in the city.