Byo residents form a trust to address water crisis

By Dumisani Nyoni

Disappointed by the government’s failure to complete the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP) to address Bulawayo’s perennial water crisis, local residents have formed a trust to see the project through.  

Mooted in 1912, the MZWP has been regarded as the long-term solution to Bulawayo’s water crisis, but lack of political will and seriousness in the part of the government has seen the project stalling, prompting the local residents to act. 

Bulawayo has been facing perennial water shortages for the past two decades because five supply dams built before independence can no longer adequately support the city’s growing population.

Of late, the water situation has worsened with council only managing to provide water to as little as two out of nearly 100 suburbs a day.

Some suburbs are even going for more than a month without running tap water, resulting in the outbreak of diseases such as diarrhoea.

In a bid to bring the MZWP to completion, some Bulawayo residents have formed a trust called the Alliance of Matabeleland and National Zambezi Initiative (Amanzi Trust) also known as the Zambezi Water for Bulawayo.

The trust is being headed by Sanpoulus Maplanka as chairman, Person Sakhile Dewa as vice-chairman, Goodman Mlalazi as secretary and Thembelihle Ncube as treasurer.

Maplanka told the CITE in an interview that MZWP has been elusive and it is “clear that we need to do this ourselves because nobody can do it for us. The City of Bulawayo is in distress.” 

“This is the time we must stand up for ourselves, together with our government, we must do this in order to secure a good future for the next generations. It is a sorry sight to see thousands of people queuing for water with long lengths of water buckets. Disease and filth takes in such an environment where toilets that cater for millions can not be flushed for weeks on end. The situation is dire,” he said. 

“It falls upon you and me to drive this agenda forward. No matter where you are in the world, if you have ever set foot on the City of Kings, and you have it in your heart and you call it your home.”

Maplanka said reiterated that the only viable solution for Bulawayo was tapping water from the Zambezi. 

“This is what we are working for.This is the challenge of our lifetime. Let us stand up and be counted,” he said.

Amanzi Trust objectives include providing water to the City of Bulawayo from the Zambezi, including raising funds for power and maintenance costs after construction of the project; to provide technical and other forms of assistance to the success of the project, and to cooperate and to coordinate with like minded organisations and those with similar interests; to provide energy and water resources to needy communities in the Matabeleland region.

It also aims to creating employment, development and skills training for the region in cooperation with like-minded organizations; to promote community development and engage in activities that advance diverse communities through technical, social, financial and economic support; to promote business activities to residents of Bulawayo and Matabeleland and to fundraise for the Trust’s developmental activities and to promote global fundraising, fund sourcing and management.

Currently, Maplanka said they have around 1 000 members across the country.

“We only got incorporated now so we are yet to consolidate our numbers. Membership will most certainly be free to certain people especially the under-privileged and the elderly.”

He said they have not actively started fund raising for the project, “but we have had many organisation interested, nationally and internationally to help us with funding. We are going to have 45 trustees and we would these to be representative of various areas.”

The MZWP is expected to be implemented in phases, with the first stage being the completion of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam, which would receive water from the Zambezi River.

The second phase would see the construction of a pipeline from Gwayi-Shangani Dam to a reservoir in Bulawayo’s Cowdray Park suburb.

Phase three would consist of the construction of a 245km pipeline from the Zambezi River to the Gwayi-Shangani Dam.

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