Chinhoyi — Zimbabwe and Zambia have approved the Zambezi River Authority budget of $89 million for 2017. The nod was given during the 34th Session of the Council of Ministers' (COM) meeting in Victoria Falls last Thursday.The countries' respective ministers of finance and energy under the ambit of the Council of Ministers issued a joint communiqué after the meeting.
Areas of convergence included a commitment to cement bilateral relations around the Zambezi River which is a shared natural resource.
The meeting also considered reviews of the Zambezi River Authority Act, with the COM noting the progress by Attorney-Generals of the respective countries in that regard.
"The COM considered the 2017 Budget totalling US$82 644 838 broken down as follows: Recurrent expenditure (US$20 369 715), Capital Expenditure (US$62 275 124)," read part of the communiqué.
"The Council of Ministers of the ZRA, remain committed to the bi-lateral co-operation."
Zimbabwe was represented by current COM chairman, Energy and Power Development Minister Samuel Undenge and Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa.
Zambia was represented by co-chairperson and Energy Minister Mr David Mabumba and Finance Minister Mr Felix Mutati.
The budget would be supported by revenue generated internally by ZRA anticipated to be around $21,3 million and a further $53,2 million from loans and grants.
Around $14 million would be from project counterpart funding contributed by ZRA.
On review of the ZRA Act, the Council of Ministers recommended that collective bargaining for workers be done according to labour laws of the respective employing state.
This means that if a worker was employed to serve in Zimbabwe, contractual provisions are in accordance with the Zimbabwean labour laws and vice versa.
The meeting also directed that ministers of water and their permanent secretaries should be part of the COM.
Ministers concurred on the need to set aside a dedicated fund for Kariba Dam rehabilitation and maintenance and that it should be included in the Act.
Various projects to repair and rehabilitate the Kariba Dam wall are varying stages of implementation.
The policymakers called for a review of Article 11 which provides for the rotation of the office of the chief executive officer and consequently the head office between Harare and Lusaka saying it was an "unjustified" cost.
The CEO shuttles between the two capitals periodically.
On the Batoka Gorge Hydro Electric Scheme, a report was tabled by financial advisors Ernst & Young recommending a commercial structure with ZRA owning and financing the dam.
This will be complemented by separately constructed power plants for the north and south banks through public or public-private partnerships (PPPs).
"COM further noted the recommendation to procure separately the following packages: financing of the dam, construction of the dam, North Bank Power Plant as PPP and South Bank Power Plant as PPP," reads the communiqué.
As a consequence, the COM has directed that an investor conference be held in Zambia in the first quarter of 2017.