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Luke-ing the Beast in the Eye: Kunzvi Dam: A perennial Zanu PF election campaign promise

Since 1996, the Zanu PF regime has been hollering and fulminating about the construction of the Kunzvi Dam. Yet nothing has substantially happened towards the full and total fulfilment of that perennial Zanu PF election promise.

The Kunzvi Dam construction has remained a promise for the over a quarter of a century that it has remained on the Zanu PF election manifesto. So too has the Kunzvi project become a work of fiction, for it remains an ungrounded floating narrative.

And fiction is a beast that needs to be luke-d in the eye, especially if the fiction is a commodity sold out by a whole government to a hapless, innocent citizenry. So this week, as someone mischievously suggested last week, I will be Luke-ing the Kunzvi fiction in the Eye.

And I publicly pledge in advance that I will change my name to Bukayo Saka or Gabriel Jesus if the regime meets its promise to deliver Kunzvi Dam before the 2023 elections.

Indeed, Kunzvi dam has remained a frozen and unfilfiled dream. A captured promise.

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And talking of capture; this column last week stirred a hornet’s nest when it touched on the regime’s capture of the private media.

My brother and former workmate Chris Goko, now a senior official at Jester Media Services Group that now owns ANZ and Modus Publications, went ballistic in a frenzied public denial that their stable was captured.

Goko’s statement was a tirade that was richer in syntax and diction than on substance. And of course, those who are captured will always stridently deny their predicament so as to reassure their captors that they are still on leash and are not about to break free.

In the case of The Daily News publishers, the captives are hiding in plain sight and many Zimbabweans can tell from the mellow headlines and the meek story lines that seek to placate and to curry favour with the regime.

In any case, captives will always confirm their capture through their deportment and conduct. After all, being captured is like having a running tummy. However you may seek to deny it, your frequent trips to the lavatory will always betray your true condition.

I can tell you Chris that the capture of The Daily News by the current regime became palpable years back, particularly in the final years of former President Robert Mugabe’s tenure when the Lacoste and G40 factions were at each other’s throat.

One of your current senior editors was actually suspended when he went to Mr Mnangagwa and exposed a journalist’s Politburo source. What had happened was that upon publishing Politburo deliberations, the reporter had confided in his editors by telling them his Politburo source.

It is said at the next Politburo meeting, Mr Mnangagwa not only exposed the source but also revealed his own plant in the newsroom, which plant today remains among the crop of editors at The Daily News.

So your kowtowing to Mr Mnangagwa began a long time ago when one of your current editors exposed a journalist to serious harm by revealing to ED a confidential source the reporter had confided in his editors. This is just but one example of capture.

I know a lot more than I divulged. But that is a story for another time.

Ironically—and just for the laughs–it was lost on my dear brother Chris that even his needlessly high verbiage and diction appeared plucked from his namesake who speaks for Zanu PF. It read like a typical Chris Mutsvangwa treatise in its desperate but pedestrian attempt to exhibit a more than average mastery of the English language. At some point, maybe it is befitting that the captive has to begin to mimick his captor, both in language and conduct. There is even a psychological explanation for it. But I digress.

The issue this week is about Kunzvi Dam and the water that has to be urgently captured and harnessed for the public good.

Kunzvi Dam, deemed to be the permanent solution to the water challenges in Harare, is to be built in my home district of Goromonzi. The dam site is 67 kilometres north-east of Harare at the confluence of Nyaguwe and Nora rivers.

The dam is expected to carry some 158, 4 million cubic metres of water and to produce some 250 000 cubic metres of water daily. Kunzvi will provide water to Harare and its catchment areas, notably Chitungwiza, Juru growth point, Arcturus and Goromonzi.

There is a huge water challenge in Harare and for the record, it is not the duty of councils to build dams. Zanu PF has always blamed the opposition-led Harare city council for the water shortages.

Yet only a dam of the magnitude of Kunzvi will deal with that challenge and the Water Act is clear that government, through the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) bears that responsibility and the requisite budget to construct dams.

Council is akin to a hose-pipe that takes the water from the government’s main water reservoirs (dams) to the residents. If there is no water in the dam or if there are no dams in the first place, it means the hosepipe has nowhere to draw water from.

The laughable habit of government to blame our council for Harare’s water woes is akin to a dry dam blaming the hosepipe for not transferring any water and yet the dry dam itself is supposed to be the source of the water.

Harare and its burgeoning population is mired in serious water challenges. Currently, Harare recycles treated waste water back into its major supply dam, Lake Chivero, and uses more than nine chemicals to treat the water at huge cost to the ratepayers.

Because of the acute shortage of foreign currency in the country, it is the responsibility of government through the Procurement Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) to procure the water treatment chemicals. Even where there are delays due to the forex shortages in availing the chemicals to treat the water, the Zanu PF regime still continues to blame the opposition-led council for the acute water challenges in the capital city.

Kunzvi Dam:  The perennial Zanu PF election promise

Indeed, the Kunzvi Dam construction project has dominated seven Zanu PF election campaign manifestos. In the 2000 parliamentary election campaign, the ruling party’s narrative was that plans to build the Kunzwi Dam were now at an advanced stage.

In the 2002 Presidential election campaign, they said the plans were now at a very advanced stage.

The crazy message mantra was to continue in the 2005 parliamentary election when they told us plans were afoot to build the Kunzvi Dam. Ahead of the 2008 harmonised polls, they promised to build the Kunzvi Dam yet again.

It was the same crazy story in 2013 when like a record stuck in a groove, Zanu PF promised to build the Kunzvi Dam. Towards the 2018 election, they told us yet again that plans to build the Kunzvi Dam were now at an advanced stage.

They certainly think we are crazy, like them. Now they have dusted the same matter yet again and on the eve of what is set to be a watershed election, we are being told yet again— and for the umpteenth time—that the plans to build the Kunzvi Dam are now at a very advanced stage.

They have forgotten they have been saying the same thing for over a quarter of a century.

Indeed, the major glitch about this mammoth project has been funding. But why lie to the citizens when you know you do not have the resources? Five days before the 2018 election, government said it had finally secured the funding for the project from the Chinese government.

Initially deemed to be complete by December 2024, government has now publicly said the dam will be completed well ahead of schedule in 2023. On my birthday on 8 September 2021, ZINWA chief executive Taurai Maurukira publicly restated that position when he said the project was well on course and would certainly be completed by 2023.

Dear reader, given the history of lies around this project, I certainly will not begrudge you if you somehow don’t believe these guys.

And the cost of the project keeps changing, typical of most government projects. One can surmise that this is because the looters, the elite in government who often hover around these huge projects, always inflate the costs to accommodate kickbacks.

At one point, we were told the Kunzvi Dam was a US$850 million dollar project, at another point it was a US$680 million project and at yet another point it became a US$109 million project. At one time it was also a US$109 million project. As with all looters, the figure keeps shifting, like a mirage.


Since 1996, and for seven elections, the Kunzvi Dam project has been a permanent item on the Zanu PF election manifesto. On the eve of yet another crucial election, they are telling us it will be complete by 2023.

There is no doubt about the importance of the project to Zimbabweans in general and to the residents of Harare in particular. The only challenge has been non-delivery on this very important national project that has been fraught with lies.

If they finally deliver the project by 2023, well and good. As they say, better late than never. Only we will then know it takes an average of well over a quarter of a century for Zanu PF to walk its own talk on such important national projects.

Someone has even quipped that Zanu PF does not feel hastened to deliver on the project because it will mainly benefit the people of Harare who have serially rejected them at the polls.

It has been 26 years of lying about this project. Whatever their postulation that they will deliver the Kunzvi Dam project well ahead of schedule in 2023, I have my serious doubts.

Being a staunch supporter of Arsenal football club, I reiterate my pledge that if this regime delivers the project in 2023, then I will change my name to Bukayo Saka!

Tanzwa nekunzwa zveKunzvi. ( We are tired of the Kunzvi lies).

Luke Tamborinyoka, a journalist by profession and an ardent political scientist , is a citizen from Domboshava . He is a change champion in the Citizens Coalition for Change ( CCC ). You can interact with him on his facebook page or via the twitter handle @ luke_tambo.