The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Online News Editor
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to work towards the completion of Lake Gwayi-Shangani which he said was one of the top priority developmental projects for this year.
The President made the declaration while outlining the national development priority areas during Cabinet’s first session in 2024 at State House last week.
The commitment by the Second Republic to complete the dam is expected to bring unparalleled development and prosperity to the Matabeleland region, heralding a new era of growth and transformation. The Gwayi-Shangani Dam has long been anticipated as a beacon of hope for the region’s development. Once complete, it will address the perennial water scarcity issues that have plagued Bulawayo for decades. It will also create a green belt in Matabeleland North and ease pressure from water sources that supply Bulawayo which are located in Matabeleland South province.
The dam’s capacity to store millions of cubic meters of water will provide a stable and sustainable water supply, ensuring that communities, farms and industries can thrive even in the face of drought and arid conditions.
President Mnangagwa in his address to Cabinet Ministers revealed that infrastructure development was a key attribute of the Second Republic.
“Infrastructure development continues to be a priority for the Second Republic. Greater focus will be made on key projects including the Forbes border post modernisation, the Harare-Chirundu highway, the Harare-Kanyemba road, the Tugwi-Mukosi control tunnel and the recapitalisation of the National Railways of Zimbabwe. The completion of the Mbudzi interchange, Lake Gwayi-Shangani and other strategic dams across our provinces will be expedited,” he said.
The President’s remarks buttress the government’s commitment to completing the project. Presenting the 2024 national budget in December, Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion Prof Mthuli Ncube said the absence of reliable water supplies for industrial use was also putting a premium on economic activities given the resultant increased cost from alternative options.
He said Treasury was scaling up investments in the provision of water for domestic, industrial and agricultural use with the Lake Gwayi-Shangani and pipeline construction being one of the priority projects in the allocation of funds from the 2024 national budget.
Prof Ncube said to fully maximise on investments in the sector, the integrated approach to water development had been embraced by Government, which ensured that dam construction, conveyancing and complementary investments such as irrigation development were undertaken simultaneously.
“Under the 2024 national budget, overall support towards dam construction projects amounts to $389 billion with priority being on the completion of Gwayi-Shangani Dam and pipeline with the dam now at the advanced stage of completion. Other targeted dams include Kunzvi Dam with the associated treatment plant and conveyancing pipeline, Ziminya, Tuli-Manyange, Bindura, Semwa, Silverstroom, and Vungu dams. Government will also support provision of requisite infrastructure for new impactful investments, such as Manhize project (iron and steel plant in Midlands province),” said Prof Ncube.
Once completed, the dam project is expected to stimulate economic growth and attract investments to the Matabeleland region. The availability of water resources will create opportunities for the establishment of new industries, particularly in sectors such as tourism, manufacturing, and agribusiness. The increased economic activity will generate employment opportunities, boost local businesses, and improve the overall standard of living for the people of Bulawayo and Matabeleland provinces.
Beyond its immediate impact on water supply and agriculture, the Gwayi-Shangani Dam holds the promise of transforming the region’s social fabric. Access to clean water for domestic use, sanitation, and hygiene will improve the health and well-being of communities, particularly in rural areas.
Schools and healthcare facilities will have a reliable water supply, enhancing the quality of education and medical services. The dam will also provide recreational opportunities, with plans for the development of resorts and recreational facilities around its shores, attracting tourists and boosting the local economy even further.