George Maponga Masvingo Bureau—
GOVERNMENT will today showcase major strides in the infrastructure and utilities cluster of Zim-Asset, with the commissioning of two mega projects worth a whopping $1,3billion when President Mugabe officially commissions the $250 million Tokwe-Mukosi Dam in Chivi soon after the landmark official launch of the $1 billion dualisation of the Beitbridge-Harare highway at Chaka Business Centre in Chirumhanzu. This is indeed a proud moment in the country’s history given the debilitating effects of the West’s illegal sanctions regime that is estimated to have cost Zimbabwe over $42 billion in revenue since the turn of the millennium in addition to contracting the economy by a factor of over 40 percent.
The ruinous sanctions regime did not spare the utilities and infrastructure sector as roads, civil aviation and railway networks across the country have not seen major improvements and modernisation due to shortage of capital and long-term investment opportunities owing to the sanctions squeeze.
President Mugabe will commission the 1,8 billion cubic metre dam that was completed in December last year after a full 18 years as Government battled against all odds to bring the project to fruition.
The mega dam was initially supposed to be completed over a two-year period, but construction, which started in March 1998, was stopped a year later after payment problems between Government and the Italian contractor Salini-Impregilo.
It was to be a recurring problem over the dam’s 18-year construction.
The painstaking journey makes today’s commissioning a testament to the Government’s tenacity in the face of a debilitating economic sanctions regime.
The commissioning of what is now Zimbabwe’s largest inland dam, which was pencilled for tomorrow, was moved forward to today.
Secretary for Environment, Water and Climate Mr Prince Mupazviriho on Tuesday confirmed the bringing forward of Tokwe Mukosi Dam commissioning in a statement.
“The Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate wishes to advise all stakeholders and members of the public that the official commissioning of Tokwe-Mukosi Dam by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Cde R.G. Mugabe, which was supposed to take place on Friday, May 19, 2017 will now be held on Thursday, May 18, 2017 at the dam site,’’ he said.
“Stakeholders are advised to take note of the new date in their planning. The programme of events for the day remains unchanged.’’
Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Senator Shuvai Mahofa yesterday said the entire province was eagerly awaiting the commissioning of the dam.
She said the drought-stricken province would never be the same after the coming on board of the new reservoir with a potential to irrigate more than 25 000 hectares.
‘’We are very much excited that tomorrow (today) His Excellency the President, Cde R.G Mugabe will commission Tokwe Mukosi Dam that will transform the social and economic landscape of our province because of its vast irrigation potential,” she said.
“Masvingo will never be the same again and the province is destined for greater heights.’’
Sen Mahofa said besides turning vast swathes of arid parts of southern Masvingo into a perennial greenbelt, Tokwe Mukosi Dam would end the scourge of hunger and unemployment in the province.
‘’We want to thank President Mugabe and the Zanu-PF Government for tirelessly looking for resources to complete Tokwe Mukosi Dam at a time when Zimbabwe was grappling with illegal sanctions imposed by the West,” she said.
“Yes, its a big day for Masvingo because there will also be official launch of the dualisation project.”
Tokwe Mukosi Dam is over 70 percent full, with collected water translating to over 1,2 billion cubic metres.
This makes the dam the biggest holder of water in Zimbabwe.
Besides opening 25 000ha to year-round irrigation, Tokwe Mukosi Dam will also provide irrigation water to Lowveld cane plantations, with the country’s sugar output expected to surge by 15 percent.
A $400 million ethanol plant is also planned at the Nuanetsi Ranch in Mwenezi banking on water from the dam, while a mega-national park is set to be created in the dam’s immediate environments.
Besides potential for tourism, the dam will also house a 15 Megawatt mini-hydro power plant that is already under construction.