Government has handed back ownership of the Zambezi Water Project to the Matabeleland Collective and its technical partner Matabeleland Zambezi Water Trust (MZWT).
The implementation of the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project, which has been hampered by various challenges, seeks to end perennial water shortages in Bulawayo by drawing water from Zambezi River to the city.
Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Mrs Virginia Mabiza confirmed the development yesterday, saying she read out the implementation matrix to the Trust. She was representing the Office of the President and Cabinet.
“Yes, I can confirm the development but my task was simply to read out the implementation matrix of the project.”
In a statement, Matabeleland Collective said Eng Chitsiko handed the project back last Wednesday.
“The permanent secretary met with the Matabeleland Collective leadership on Wednesday as a follow up to President Mnangagwa’s instruction to Cabinet for implementation on the promises made to members after the March 21, engagement at State House in Bulawayo.
“Matabeleland Collective requested the return of the project as part of its Compensatory Development Devolution (CDD) Model, which is a unique and new approach that will be an important vehicle to bring the project alive in all its phases.”
Matabeleland Collective said phase one of the project, the building of the Gwayi- Shangani Dam, had slowed down and the completion date of December 2019 seemed unreachable due to lack of direct interest, local ownership and passion for the development.
“In returning ownership of the project, Matabeleland Collective expects increased zeal and energy on the development in the region as power over this project has now devolved.
“Mr Chitsiko pledged that Government will continue to support all the efforts of Matabeleland Collective and its technical partners including continuing to source funding partners but that true ownership of the project is the communities resident in Matabeleland as was originally conceptualised by MZWT and residents of the provinces,” read the statement.
Matabeleland Collective also called for support for the project, saying it would now formalise the implementation in consultation with Zinwa and a also find funders.
“Matabeleland Collective is calling for the people of Matabeleland to participate in the envisioning process once again and call on interested stakeholders for support be it technically or with goods to speed up the project implementation towards the full realisation of the dream of a green Matabeleland.”