Bongani Ndlovu, Online Reporter
THE Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Vangelis Peter Haritatos was on Thursday blown away by the magnitude of the construction of Lake Gwayi-Shangani in Matabeleland North province.
Speaking during a tour of the site, Deputy Minister Haritatos said it was the first time he had visited the site and described it as “massive.”
He said he was bowled over by the endless possibilities of empowerment that the lake presented to people in Matabeleland and the country. The project has become a beacon of true development and empowerment in Africa and is a perfect example of President Mnangagwa’s vision of uplifting every citizen so that everyone plays a part in achieving Vision 2030.
“I’m blown away not only is the dam a massive massive, project, but the downstream benefits are incredibly large,” said Deputy Minister Haritatos.
“I can hear the thunder (of the river water) it’s an incredible thing to see. I think the people will be very happy when we complete this Lake Gwayi-Shangani.”
Before the tour, Deputy Minister Haritatos had attended a stakeholder meeting at Hwange Safari Lodge in Matabeleland North province on Thursday morning.
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 that was attended by the 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.
Deputy Minister Haritatos described the meeting with the community and the chiefs as fruitful.
“We talked to the community and it was all-inclusive, we had the leadership, we had chiefs and we listened to them and opened up on them and educated them with regards to how this massive project will benefit the people.”
“There are irrigation advancements that we have on board, and 10 000 hectares of irrigation that will be opened here. I think the message was received well and the good thing is that the chiefs were very honest with us and told us where their problems and challenges were.”
Deputy Minister Haritatos said such honest discussion helps build the country.
“With honesty, that’s how we build our country and what they have told us we have taken. There are other things that we can bring to the table and make the chiefs and community a little bit better.
“That’s what we are about in the Second Dispensation, we are about the upliftment of each and everyone’s livelihoods and what the President said of leaving no person and no place behind,” said Deputy Minister Haritatos.
He said it was important to note that Lake Gwayi-Shangani Dam should first benefit the community in and around it.
“The dams in the past were just that and that was the project. And now we have been taught that there are other things coming, such as power generation, a green belt from here in Hwange District, passing Lupane and all the way to Bulawayo.
“So it’s not only about the Bulawayo residents that will gain but everyone in between and it’s very important for communities to benefit from this dam. Surely it can’t only be Bulawayo residents benefiting,” said Deputy Minister Haritatos.
He said communities will benefit from irrigation projects that will be established including fisheries and tourism. 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 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.
So far 72 percent of the dam wall has been constructed and it is envisaged that the project will be complete in time for this year’s summer cropping season.