22 August 2017

Zimbabwe: Not Govt Duty Alone to Build Dams, Says Minister

The government has no obligation to construct dams in the country as it is not the ultimate beneficiary of such projects, a minister said Tuesday.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Davis Marapira, said the private sector was the main beneficiary and should, therefore, be at the forefront of such projects.

He was addressing delegates to a Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce breakfast conference at the on-going Zimbabwe Agricultural Show in Harare.

Marapira was responding to a question on why it had taken the government more than 30 years to complete the construction of the $300 million Tokwe- Mukosi dam, which was only officially commissioned by President Robert Mugabe in May this year.

"Government is not the user of the water but you the private sector so let's come together and build together. We built Tokwe Mukosi and now companies want to use it for their projects; why do you want to milk the government when you are the beneficiaries," he said.

The deputy minister also said people should not only rely on the government for the provision of agricultural extension services, which were traditionally provided by the Department of Agricultural, Technical and Extension Services under his ministry.

"The private sector should also be included in the provision of extension services because there are better people in the private sector to do that. Let us work together to have well informed farmers," he said, adding Agritex, which was introduced in 1980, was using old technology.

Marapira said government had entered into various Public Private Partnerships which had seen parastatals such as the Agriculture and Rural Development Agency being revitalized.

"We allowed the private sector to assist ARDA and today it is the best example of a well-developed agricultural institution in Zimbabwe," he said.

Tokwe-Mukosi dam was completed this year after its wall collapsed in 2014, resulting in the flooding of homes and fields of villagers living downstream.

The collapse of the dam wall created a humanitarian crisis, with the more than 20 000 affected villagers moved to high ground and settled at Chingwizi camp where there were no proper facilities.

Despite promises by the government to provide compensation for the affected villagers and provide proper settlements, the villagers are still languishing at the camp, where they are living in makeshift houses and tents.

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