BY MXOLISI NCUBE
Residents of Zimbabwe’s second biggest city have accused President Robert Mugabe’s Government of neglecting the city’s water problems in a deliberate bid to under-develop the Matabeleland region.
Last year, residents endured more than six months of crippling water shortages after four of Bulawayo’s five supply dams – all situated in the drought-prone Matabeleland South province – dried up and were decommissioned.
People interviewed by The Zimbabwean said Mugabe was getting back at them for rejecting his party in every election. They also accused the Government of deliberately neglecting the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP), an ambitious project meant to draw water from the mighty Zambezi River to the city.
Mooted in 1912, the project is viewed as the ultimate answer to the city’s water woes. It would involve laying a 450km long pipeline linking the city to the Zambezi River, but has remained a pipe-dream after years of under-funding.
The pipeline was also expected to solve the critical hunger situation haunting most parts of Matabeleland North, as irrigation schemes could have been created after the pipeline became operational. Â
But people in Bulawayo have grown impatient with the Government’s empty promises.
“We are tired of being lied to and to us it is now clear that the MZWP will not be a reality under the present Government. The only time we hear about the project is when someone campaigns as we approach elections,” said Melusi Mhlanga of Sizinda.
The residents said that due to the city’s water problems, several companies had either closed or re-located to other cities, condemning Bulawayo to serious under-development, and thereby killing the rest of Matabeleland.
“Some greedy local politicians are also part of this problem as they only look at themselves instead of pushing the project and that is sad. They just care about keeping their posts at the expense of the rest of the local populace,” fumed Gloria Moyo of Cowdray Park.
In the lead-up to the 2002 presidential elections, Matabeleland Zambezi Water Trust (MZWT) Chairman Dumiso Dabengwa, then a Zanu (PF) politburo member, told Zanu (PF) supporters at Barbourfields Stadium during a rally by Mugabe that a Malaysian company had undertaken to fund the project, but nothing materialised.
An MZWP official told The Zimbabwean the Government’s under-funding of the project remained its main stumbling block.
“There will be no progress for as long as this under-funding continues,” said the official. ÂPost published in: News