The government has challenged the newly appointed Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) board to expedite the construction of several major water infrastructure projects such as the Gwayi-Shangani Dam, Dande Dam and many others to achieve food security, power generation and transform the country to realise vision 2030.

The new ZINWA board appointed by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, Retired Air Chief Marshal Perrance Shiri today, is chaired by Engineer Bongile Ndiweni and has been tasked with implementing all government strategic water projects and ensure they are completed on projected timelines in line with Vision 2030.

“You are coming at a timing when the government is constructing a number of major water infrastructure projects including the Gwayi-Tshangani, Tuli, Bindura, Semwa and Dande dam, just to mention a few. The completion of these projects is critical for the realisation of Zimbabwe’s socio-economic development mainly in the area of food security, agriculture, power generation, water and sanitation,” said Minister Shiri.

Retired Air Chief Marshal Shiri also implored the new board to critically study the organisational structure and ensure its relevance and ability to deliver water to the nation in terms of the ZINWA Act.

“A good starting point would be the appointment of the Chief Executive Officer, a critical position that has been open for a while now. As a board, you will also need to look at ZINWA’s operations in the context of our economic environment, where a parastatal is owed RTGS$100 million by farmers, local authorities and various debtors and find innovative ways to recover the money while ensuring farming operations do not grind to a halt,” he said.

The new ZINWA Board Chair, Engineer Ndiweni will be deputised by Retired Air Marshal Henry Muchena.

Other board members include Dr Remember Benjamin, Dr Sanzan Diarra, Mr Norman Maisiri, Engineer Robert Mutepfa, Mr Alan Franklin, Mrs Nyaradzo Tirivanhu, Mrs Moud Munongwa and Mr Taurai Maurukira.

Meanwhile, ZINWA says strict water conservation strategies have to be adopted in Matabeleland South Province after major dams in the province failed to reach full supply capacity.

According to the authority, seven major dams are below 50 percent, while 14 others are between 50 percent and 88 percent capacity.

Speaking on the sidelines of a provincial drought relief committee meeting, ZINWA’s Umzingwane Catchment Operations Engineer Artwell Machaya revealed that agriculture activities have been affected in some parts of the province due to the low levels of some dams.

“When we have normal supplies, our irrigation schemes will be flourishing but at the moment many have since scaled down operations. To us who are providers of raw water, it is a loss to us. Already there are nine farming schemes which draw water from upper Insiza who have to stop their activities,” he said.

While water released from upstream dams will ensure constant supplies for Gwanda and Filabusi whose supply dams had depleted to critical levels, about 11 rural centres have supplies of between two and five months.

At least $412 000 is required for immediate and short term interventions.

Umzingwane catchment currently has around 606 000 megalitres of water in storage against a potential storage of 716 000 megalitres.