Zambia blocks Zambezi Water project
by Natasha Hove
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe's chances of drawing water from the Zambezi River to the Gwayi-Tshangani dam is facing stiff resistance from Zambia, who has claimed that 75 per cent of the Zambezi River basins are in that country.
The continued resistance spells doom for the much touted National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP) which is seen as a lasting solution to the water woes of Matabeleland. The Zimbabwean heard that Zambia is refusing to sign the Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM) Protocol.
Six of the eight SADC states (Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, and Angola) have to sign and ratify the Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM) Protocol to allow Zimbabwe to draw water from the Zambezi River. However, to date four countries have signed and ratified the Protocol while three have signed and not ratified. Zambia is the only country that has neither signed nor ratified the Protocol. Water Resources Minister, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, confirmed Zambia had neither signed nor ratified the Protocol.
"Zambia is arguing that 75 per cent of the Zambezi River basin is in Zambia and they also contribute 42 per cent of Zambezi River water. Therefore, Zambia wants this natural advantage to be factored in when it comes to water abstraction from the Zambezi River, something not currently considered in the standing Protocol," Nkomo said. The now renamed NMZWP is seen as a permanent solution to end the water crisis in the Matabeleland region. The NMZWP intends to draw water from the Zambezi through the construction of a 450km pipeline to arid Matabeleland.