Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter
GOVERNMENT is set to establish agricultural economic zones that will benefit over 700 families that will be relocated from Lake-Gwayi Shangani basin.
The second Republic will also address concerns expressed by chiefs from Matabeleland North who want the province to benefit more from the project.
The Ministry of Local Government and Public Works organised a stakeholders meeting that was held yesterday at Hwange Safari Lodge.
The meeting brought together chiefs from Matabeleland North who included Chief Siansali, Chief Nekatambe, Chief Nelukoba, Chief Matupula, Chief Kavula, Chief Menyezwa, Chief Mabhikwa (acting) and Chief Sinamangonde.
Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo presided over the meeting.
Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Deputy Minister Vangelis Haritatos, Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office Retired Brigadier General Sibangumuzi Khumalo, Matabeleland North Minister for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Richard Moyo, members of the Joint Operations Command, Engineers in charge of the Lake-Gwayi Shangani and Government officials attended the meeting.
The delegation toured Lake Gwayi- Shangani after the meeting.
The dam was mooted way back in 1912 and implementation of the project only started a few years ago but has been sluggish until the coming in of the Second Republic.
The dam will benefit communities along the 256km pipeline from Lake Gwayi-Shangani to Bulawayo.
The dam which will provide a permanent solution to Bulawayo’s perennial water shortages, will also provide 10MW of electricity to the national grid. During presentations, the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development said a total of 747 households will be relocated. The households affected fall under Chief Kavula in Binga district and according to the Ministry plans are underway to build houses for them. Minister Moyo said plans to establish agricultural zones will be presented to the people after consultations with the chiefs within the next two to three months.
“There are 747 families that are set for reorganization that will be affected by Lake Gwayi-Shangani.
We don’t want to say relocation but we want to say reorganization. We shall start with the economic units that are going to be done at Chief Kavula’s area,” said Local Government and Public Works Minister Moyo.
He said the Housing Ministry was working on designs of houses to be built for the affected families.
“We don’t want to reorganise them so that they become dependent on social welfare like we are doing at Chingwizi in Masvingo. We can no longer do that. We should be able to reorganise them to engage in economic activities,” he said.
Minister Moyo said the areas where people will be moved will be put under agricultural economic zones.
“We can’t dump the people in the bush and just say fend for yourself. We can no longer do that. The Ministry of Agriculture and the line Ministries must be planning ahead for the day these people will be
moved,” said Minister Moyo.
Deputy Minister Haritatos said the Ministry will assist with mechanisation of farmers along the green belt.
He said the Ministry will also help with marketing of the crops from the Lake-Gwayi Shangani greenbelt.
“We shall look block by block what is there, whether its maize, sorghum or soya beans. We want some of the schemes to produce export crops to earn foreign currency that will benefit communities,” said Deputy Haritatos.
Provincial Affairs Minister Moyo said Matabeleland North will benefit immensely from the completion of the dam.
“We expect to revamp our agricultural production through establishment of irrigation schemes along the pipeline. The tourism sector; the fisheries and all related value chain sectors linked to this project will help grow our Provincial GDP as directed by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde E. D. Mnangagwa,’ said Minister Moyo.
He urged stakeholders in the province to work hard so as to benefit more from the completion of massive dam. During deliberations, chiefs said Lake Gwayi Shangani has been touted as the permanent solution to Bulawayo’s water problems but as chiefs they want their people to benefit more from the dam in their area.
Some said pipelines extended to villages that are more than 70kms away from Lake Gwayi-Shangani.
Representing traditional leaders from the province Chief Siansali said there were few dams in the province hence many communities want to benefit from Lakwe gway0Shangani water.
“If you look at Nkayi, Umguza and Binga districts there are no dams of note that benefit our people there. In Tsholotsho, when it rains water brings with it disaster as people experience flooding and there are no dams there,” said Chief Siansali.
He said his people were relocated from Kariba to pave way for the construction of the dam but the people did not benefit from the dam.
“Big Government projects like these must benefit as many people as people hence our call to ensure many communities acess water from this dam,” said Cief Siansali.
He said he was happy that the Government was consulting communities.
Chief Siansali said Isiphala Senkosi Irrigation schemes should be established along the pipeline to benefit communitiesd.
Chief, Nelukoba Dingane said chiefs and their surrounding areas must access water from the dam.
This was after engineers from Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) had suggested that a purification site be constructed at the Hwange Game park.
Deputy Minister Haritatos said he had noted concerns raised by chiefs.
“It was good being with the chiefs and they were honest with us and told us their concerns and challenges,” he said.