By Dumisani Nyoni
CHIEF Dingani Nelukoba of Dete has urged the government to complete the Gwayi-Shangani Dam so that villagers under his jurisdiction, especially women and youth, could start income-generating projects.
The Gwayi-Shangani Dam, mooted in 1912, is a critical component of the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP), an ambitious project mooted over a century ago and seen as a long term solution to perennial water shortages facing Bulawayo.
However, since its inception in 1912, the dam is yet to be completed due to lack of political will and inadequate resources to fund it.
Currently, the China International Water and Electric Corporation which was awarded the tender by the government, is undertaking the project and work on the project is expected to be finished in December 2022.
Upon completion, the dam will become the country’s third largest inland water body after Tokwe-Mukosi and Lake Mutirikwi.
Chief Nelukoba, an educationist and consistent development voice, told journalists during a media tour organised by the Cultural Information Trust last week that completion of the dam will turn around their socio-economic situation.
The dam, which is on the confluence of Gwayi and Shangani rivers, is expected to bring about socio-economic transformation of surrounding communities and other parts of the drought-prone Matabeleland North province.
A pipeline will connect from Zambezi River via the dam to Cowdray Park water works in Bulawayo with multiple outlets along the way where various projects will be carried out to create a greenbelt.
Nelukoba also said the completion of the dam will also solve critical water challenges currently facing villagers in Dete.
“We have a serious water crisis in Dete which is affecting both people and livestock,” he said.
Gwayi-Shangani Dam is situated in region four, which is characterised by low rainfall patterns and high temperatures.
Nelukoba was optimistic that the project would sail through this time around as he was now part of the board overseeing the project.
“Now I am on the board. There was nobody from this province who could stand for us for this dam. That was the problem,” he said.
“That dam there by now could be a green belt to Bulawayo. But now, what was happening, they came and went. But now I don’t know what will happen as Moyo (Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs minister Richard Moyo) is here as the minister. I think this time it has taken off because they are always coming there.”
“Moyo is always here and his monitors. The challenge now is Covid-19. The Chinese who are spearheading the construction of the dam, some of them are in China and they are struggling to come back. They told us that the money is there,” he said.
So far, about US$122 million has been spent on the project, according to the government.
In 2012, the government grabbed the MZWP from the late Dumiso Dabengwa led Matabeleland Zambezi Water Trust, which had been spearheading the project after promising to speed its finalisation but with little success.