Study or time wasting?


Reports that the French government is to finance an $8 million feasibility study of the Bulawayo-Zambezi water pipeline seem to be just another indication of how inefficient and undecided our government is, or how much donors can dictate to the State what it should do.

Just 10 years ago an Italian company, Geoconsult, carried out a feasibility study of the same pipeline at no charge to the Zimbabwean government. The company, according to documents in possession of The Insider, has been trying all along to carry out another feasibility study which was going to be financed by the Italian government.

The cost of the feasibility study, if it had been undertaken in 1982 was going to be less than $1 million but the then Minister of Water, Cephas Msipa, insisted that there was no need to harness water from the Zambezi. He said it would be cheaper to seek another sources of water for Bulawayo but none was sought up to now.

Msipa’s attitude, though he was a member of ZAPU, was largely blamed on the government’s attitude then that it could not carry out such an expensive project because it would only benefit so-called dissidents who were fighting against the government at the time.

Geoconsult were still willing to carry out another feasibility study after the merger of the two warring former allies but this time they were given a cold shoulder. In fact, debate then seemed to be centred on who was going to get a cut from the multi-million dollar project rather than on its necessity.

As Bulawayo ran out of water another feasibility study with costs of different pipe sizes and schedules when the pipeline could be completed was conducted by a South African company. The project was sponsored by the Matebeleland-Zambezi Water Project. The ink on that document has hardly dried yet now the nation is being told of yet another study, for a hefty $8 million. Is this really necessary or there is much more to it than just the feasibility study?


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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