The President, Cde Robert Mugabe has officially commissioned Zimbabwe’s largest inland water body,  the Tokwe-Mukosi in Masvingo Province.

Addressing thousands of people at the commissioning, Cde Mugabe said he is impressed and overwhelmed that the construction of the dam was finally completed despite having taken long due to financial challenges.

“This joyous moment demonstrates the government commitment to ensure its people get enough food. The construction of this dam started way back in 1998 and due to economic challenges it took time but today we are here to witness the commissioning of the Tokwe-Mukosi dam. The dam was completed last year. Makorokoto, amhlope,” said President Mugabe.

Tokwe-Mukosi dam has the capacity to hold 1.8 billion cubic meters of water at its full capacity.

President Mugabe also said the dam will create thousands of jobs, both in the upstream and downstream  agricultural sector adding that a hydro-power plant to generate electricity will be erected at the dam with a capacity to produce 15 megawatts of power.

He said this is in line with government’s policy that wherever a dam is constructed, there should be a hydro-power station to boost the country’s power generation.

“The Tokwe-Mukosi dam comes in handy with 25000 hectares of irrigation land in the lowveld. This project will create thousands of jobs in upstream and downstream of the agriculture sector,” he said.

The President however urged people in Masvingo to avoid silting the dam, saying all benefits expected will be shattered.

“The plan to construct the US$300 million dam was mooted three decades ago and the completion of Tokwe-Mukosi a monumental achievement realised through hard work and determination, hence avoid silting the dam to enjoy the full benefits which comes along with this dam,” said Cde Mugabe.

Cde Mugabe added that the dam will boost the agriculture sector and guarantee food security.

“The Tokwe-Mukosi dam come in handy with 25000 hectares of irrigation land to develop some irrigation schemes in Masvingo and the Lowveld region,” said President Mugabe.

Earlier, President Mugabe officially broken the ground to mark the commencement of construction work of the dualised Beitbridge-Harare highway.

The ground breaking ceremony was held this afternoon at Gonawapotera Secondary School near Chaka Business Centre in Chirumanzu, the Midlands Province along the Harare-Masvingo highway.

President Mugabe hails the project, which he says will be another springboard for economic development as it will have a multiplier effect on the country’s economy.

He called for high quality work that meets international standards, noting that the highway is the busiest in the country and links South Africa and other countries in the SADC region, East and Central Africa.

Cde Mugabe blamed illegal economic sanctions imposed on the country by Britain and her allies for stalling major infrastructure projects in Zimbabwe, adding that Zimbabweans still need to be resilient, united and soldier on against neo-colonialism if they are to be masters of their destiny.

He urged local companies to participate fully in the project and warned them as well as suppliers against overcharging so that they can be considered for future projects.

Speaking at the same event, the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Dr Joram Gumbo said the first part of the project which covers the Beitbridge-Harare highway will take three years to complete and is being financed under the public-private partnership agreement, while the second part covering Harare-Chirundu will be financed by a loan.

“The first part of the project [Beitbridge-Harare] will cost US$984 million,” said Minister Gumbo, adding that “negotiations for securing a loan for the second phase are at an advanced stage.”

Mr Eric Geiger, the Vice Chairman of Geiger International, the Austrian company which won the tender, said they are happy to undertake the project after six years of negotiations that were characterised by court cases at some stage.

He added that 40 percent of the work will be undertaken by Zimbabweans, a move that will give jobs to local companies.

Earlier, the Minister of State for Midlands Province, Cde Jason Machaya, who gave the welcoming remarks, saluted President Mugabe for the decision to dualise the Beitbridge-Harare road, saying it will save lives and create employment for the success of the ZIM ASSET programme.