Water Resources Minister Sam Sipepa Nkomo, who is under fire from Bulawayo residents, was scheduled to hold a special meeting with the locals and civic society organizations on Friday night to discuss crippling water shortages in the City of Kings.
Zimbabwe is facing a critical water crisis but Bulawayo is among the hardest hit areas with the local authority cutting supplies to residents for at least three days a week, a situation activists say is dangerous in the era of typhoid and other diseases such as cholera.
Nkomo told VOA: “If residents are getting less than what they are supposed to get then it’s a problem. I will have to check with the (Bulawayo) mayor and find out why they are not sticking to the schedules that they have announced publicly.”
The minister, who was in Botswana with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to discuss, among other issues, the possibility of a critical Harare-Gaborone joint water project to save drought-stricken regions in the two countries, said the water shortages are a result of low rainfall that has left dams and boreholes with little water.
He said the government is speeding up the connection of the Mtshabezi Dam to try and reduce the water shedding hours.
“We are also trying to get the Nyamandlovu Aquifer to boost the water situation in Bulawayo.”
The minister has come under attack from residents who say he is not doing enough, but he said: “I have done everything humanly possible and some of the things have to be done by the city council.”
“All I have done is to make sure that money is available. I have spoken to government and I have spoken to donors and the money has been made available and the actor here is the city,” said Sipepa.
He said it will take about three months to rehabilitate the water systems, repairing broken down boreholes and pipes.
The minister said he had a successful trip to Botswana and he will soon be holding a meeting with his counterpart from the neighboring nation to discuss a request by Batswana to extract water from the Zambezi.
Nkomo said: “I pointed out that Zimbabwe will not support Botswana to get water upstream of the Victoria Falls because if they do that then there will be less water going through the Falls and it will become an international problem for us. And they understand that.”