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Political Progress Required to Repair Zimbabwe Water Infrastructure - Minister

Water Resources Minister Sam Sipepa Nkomo said water infrastructure cannot be overhauled without assistance from donors, who are waiting for progress on resolving a range of issues troubling the unity government

Zimbabwe will continue to face problems in providing its population with safe drinking water, Water Resources Minister Sam Sipepa Nkomo warned Monday, as the country needs more than five billion dollars to overhaul infrastructure.

Nkomo was responding to reports that a number of Zimbabwean cities continue to have difficulty providing water despite promises by the unity government in power since February 2009 that it would deal with the problem.

Some parts of Harare, the capital, still have no water. Residents of Gweru and Mutare have had no water for weeks. In Bulawayo problems are also severe.

Contaminated water supplies were a major factor in the cholera epidemic that claimed more than 4,200 lives from late 2008 through mid-2009.

Nkomo told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that his ministry was not allocated money for infrastructure upgrades in the 2010 budget so repairs will depend on help from donors awaiting progress on the political front.