Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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China funds $1,2bn Zambezi Water Project

China funds $1,2bn Zambezi Water Project

12/07/2012 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

BULAWAYO’S water problems will be over in three years, a minister declared 
on Thursday as he announced that the Chinese government had committed US$1,2 
billion to a long-mooted plan to draw water from the Zambezi River through a 
400km pipeline.

Water Resources Minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo said Chinese contractors were 
this week beginning work on the project which was first drawn up by British 
settlers in 1912.

When complete, the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Pipeline will create a 
“greenbelt of agricultural activity” along its length, Nkomo told a news 
conference at a Bulawayo hotel.

“The government has secured funding to the tune of US$864 million from the 
Chinese Exim Bank. The $864 million has been budgeted for by the Chinese 
government,” Nkomo said.

“One of our contractors, China International Water and Electric, has since 
been instructed to move on site. The $8 million allocated by Treasury in the 
2012 budget will be channelled towards site re-establishment costs.”
He said the Chinese would this year allocate a further $345 million in their 
budget to complete the project.

The project will be implemented in phases, with the first stage being the 
completion of the Gwayi- Shangani Dam which would receive water from the 
Zambezi River.

The second phase will see the construction of a pipeline from Gwayi-Shangani 
Dam to a reservoir in Bulawayo’s Cowdray Park suburb.
The third and final phase will be the construction of a 245km pipeline from 
the Zambezi River to the Gwayi-Shangani Dam.

The parched Matabeleland regions traditionally receive low rainfall, and the 
urban expansion around Bulawayo has put pressure on the city’s water supply 
dams forcing the local authority to invoke rationing measures.

Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, who attended the press briefing, 
said the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project could be “bigger than Chiadzwa” 
in its economic impact – reference to the diamond discovery in the east of 
the country.
“The scope of the development that will be brought by the completion of the 
project is difficult to fathom,” Chombo said.

“Local authorities must plan the activities that will take place along the 
canal. In my mind, I am seeing a corridor of people growing crops, animal 
husbandry, residential infrastructure with modern tarred roads, sewer 
systems and shops.

“I also see a fruit growing industry complete with packaging and canning 
factories. Let us not wait to start planning when the water finally reaches 

Dumiso Dabengwa, the chairperson of the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Trust, 
said it was a fulfilment of one of the dreams of the late Vice President 
Joshua Nkomo.

“Diverse opinions always exist but national interest is of paramount 
importance. We welcome this breakthrough without reservations,” said 

Fan Hu, the vice chairman of the China Dalian Technical Group (CDIG) – the 
contractor which will build the pipeline – said the project would provide 
enough water for about two million people and all industrial activity in the 

“It will take three years to complete. We are looking at the establishment 
of a greenbelt along the pipeline on which we expect the economy of 
Matabeleland to be built. Significant growth of the national economy is also 
expected to result from the project,” said Fan.

Chombo said “people’s appetites have been aroused countless times over the 
project” and hoped the Chinese government’s intervention was the 
breakthrough which had eluded successive governments and private trusts 
since 1912. 


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