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Bulawayo residents call for prioritisation of water provision in 2021 budget

Professor Mthuli Ncube

Oliver Kazunga, Senior Reporter
Government should in the 2021 national budget prioritise allocating more funds towards projects aimed at improving water supply in Bulawayo.

This emerged during a public hearing on the 2021 national budget held in Bulawayo yesterday.

Bulawayo is experiencing one of the worst water crises in the city’s history.

The local authority which was implementing a weekly 144-hour water shedding exercise, recently abandoned the schedule for provisional water restoration strategy, where council provides water to a few selected suburbs across the city for less than 12 hours in a week.

The water crisis has resulted in diarrhoea outbreaks in Luveve and surrounding areas with 13 people dying while more than 2 000 have been affected.

Bulawayo City Council has said only improved rainfall can address the water crisis, while midterm measures are being implemented by Government to permanently deal with the situation.

Residents that attended the public hearing on the upcoming national budget expressed concern over the prevailing water crisis.

They called on the Government to consider allocating more resources towards water provision in the upcoming national budget.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube is expected to present the 2021 fiscal policy statement next month.

“As residents in Bulawayo, we are deeply concerned about the current water situation in the city.

“Due to the water crisis existing in the city, we are fetching water from unprotected wells where raw sewage water flows into. We are appealing to Government to avail more funding for investment in water infrastructure to curb the existing water woes,” said one of the residents, Mr Bekithemba Ncube during the public hearing held in Bulawayo yesterday.

For the greater part of the year, Bulawayo City Council has been struggling to provide potable water as supply dam levels have dwindled drastically.

An official from the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) Bulawayo youth hub urged the Government in the 2021 national budget to set aside significant resources to support water and sanitation projects in Bulawayo.

“On water and sanitation, we require these particular things to be put in place, if possible, doubled.

“We are grateful to the Intermediary Tax which was introduced on a neo-liberal strata. However, that strata went to pay for IMF (International Monetary Fund) debt we see that what is more crucial now is water.

“We need water and food, we need to incentivise these particular avenues so we require that these are looked into as the Government crafts the next budget,” said the official.

Another official, Ms Jacqueline Tshuma who also spoke on behalf of Zimcodd echoed similar sentiments adding that the Government needs to allocate more resources on sexual reproductive health services.

“Let there be improved or established sexual reproductive health services. Right now, we are looking into a case where more than 200 school children are dropping out of school because of being pregnant or other sexual reproductive health related issues. When that happens, it means you are removing a whole portion of young people off the grid, the future that we are looking forward to.

“So, we feel like that should be a priority and we’re looking at around $100 million to be set aside to support the sexual reproductive health services,” she said.

Participants at the public hearing also called on the Government to allocate more resources towards the youth-driven Small-Medium Enterprises to reduce unemployment rate among the young generation across the country.