Former Water minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo allegedly stalled progress on the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project by refusing to work with the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Trust (MZWT), the Southern Eye has heard.
BY SILAS NKALA
This was revealed by the newly appointed MZWT chairperson Richard Ndlovu at a Press conference in Bulawayo on Friday.
Ndlovu took over from the late Dumiso Dabengwa who died in May 2019.
MZWT chief executive officer Sarah Ndlovu said the board sat early Friday where they agreed on Ndlovu taking over the chairmanship.
Addressing members of the Press, the new chairperson said MZWT — which was registered in 1993, was aimed at pushing for development of Matabeleland after the signing of the Unity Accord in 1987.
He said under the trust were committees such as the Matabeleland Action committee which instigated the construction of the maternity wing at Mpilo Central Hospital, the National University of Science and Technology and Solusi universities.
“In 1987 there was a Unity Accord and in 2008 we had the GNU (Government of National Unity) that is when we started having problems,” Ndlovu, who is also a Zanu PF Bulawayo provincial member, said.
“Minister Nkomo did not want to work with MZWT. He refused to work with us resulting in the setback.”
Ndlovu said they have since mended relations with government and now expect progress.
Ndlovu said they were pushing government to look at many water projects which can help Matabeleland, which currently faces serious water challenges.
“We are working with local authorities. We are trying to push government to relive water problems in Gwanda and other areas in Matabeleland. We have proposed that the government should construct another dam along the Tegwane River to help parts of Matabeleland with water,” Ndlovu said.
“Yes the Zambezi Water Project is a project which will benefit the whole of Matabeleland, but we also look at other water projects in the region.”
His remarks were buttressed by the trust’s board secretary Angeline Masuku who said the government has channeled some funds towards the project so that the region has enough water supply.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Nkomo said Ndlovu’s remarks confirmed that the project was a Zanu PF initiative and was bound to fail.
He admitted that during his tenure he had a standoff with MZWT because they wanted to privatise a government project.
“What made us not to agree is that the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project is a national project which is the responsibility of government to construct, not a private thing,” he said.
“During my time as a minister it became the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project because it needs to be a government responsibility like what the government did at Tugwi-Mukosi and Mtshabezi dam projects. The government funded these projects to completion because they were its responsibility and the Zambezi Water project must be handled the same. Why must the people of Matabeleland take responsibility of things that government must do? The problem is that MZWT wanted to privatise the project.”
He said during his tenure he spoke to then President the late Robert Mugabe, who said government was folding its hands because MZWT people wanted to make it a Matabeleland project.
“If they want more evidence up to the time I left government as to what made it fail I have it. At the time I was minister it was the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project and this was meant to make government take responsibility to complete the project, but these people still wanted to privatise the project. For it to succeed government must take full responsibility,” Nkomo insisted.
The Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project started in 1912 and to date it has not been completed amid concerns that there has not been any political will by successive governments to see the completion of the project.