George Maponga Masvingo Bureau
The provincial leadership in Masvingo is pushing for the setting up of an authority that will be responsible for planning developments at the Tugwi-Mukosi Dam, as Masvingo readies to accrue benefits from Zimbabwe’s largest inland water body.
No big developments have taken place at the dam since its commissioning in May 2017, but there is new impetus from Government to have the reservoir being fully utilised, with a team of ministers led by Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri touring the water body on Sunday.
Work on the dam’s master plan is reportedly nearing completion, paving the way for full scale developments at Tugwi-Mukosi.
Masvingo Provincial Administrator Mr Fungai Mbetsa said the proposed authority will include representatives from Chivi and Masvingo rural district councils that share the dam, together with those from various line ministries with an interest in the dam project.
Some of the ministries are Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement; Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry; and Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.
“We have also sent our proposals to central Government on what we think should be done at Tugwi-Mukosi Dam in line with a baseline survey that we carried out and expect to constitute what will be contained in the consolidated master plan document,” said Mr Mbetsa.
“It is up to central Government to accede to our proposal for the creation of a combination authority involving various players with a direct interest in the project.
“The combination authority will be tasked with planning developments at Tugwi-Mukosi Dam and surrounding areas.”
Mr Mbetsa said Tugwi-Mukosi was now a national project, hence the provincial leadership had no influence on the push towards full exploitation of the dam.
“We are quite hopeful like everybody else that various projects will start rolling at the dam, we are very expectant because the dam project will alter in a big way the socio-economic configuration of the province,” he said.
“There will be new irrigation land of more than 25 000 hectares and big hotels are earmarked for the place so it’s a very big project with huge potential to change Masvingo Province.”
Mr Mbetsa said the recent visit by permanent secretaries led by Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Mr Justin Mupamhanga was an indication of Government’s serious interest in the dam project.
Mr Mupamhanga’s team toured the dam and other sites where projects such as a power generation plant and hotels will be built.
The team said such projects should go ahead since there had no major effects on the master plan currently being worked on.
There is growing concern and anxiety across Masvingo over the slow pace in starting to benefit from Tugwi-Mukosi water.
The nearly $260 million dam also boasts vast potential for a vibrant fisheries project billed to create thousands of jobs.
Mr Mbetsa said urban settlements such as the nearby Ngundu Halt will grow more than three or four-fold once real developments begin at Tugwi-Mukosi.
Local government experts postulate that a conurbation stretching from Chiredzi in the south-east to Rutenga to the south-east will be birthed once full utilisation of the vast reservoir begins.