Refurbishment Of Zaka Irrigation Scheme Stalled As Severe Hunger Bites
By Itai Muzondo
MASVINGO-October 8, 2015 – One of Zaka’s biggest life saving but now reportedly dilapidated irrigation scheme has remained unrefurbished despite election campaign promises by Zaka Central legislator who is also Masvingo Zanu(PF) provincial chairperson, Paradzai Chakona to rehabilitate the project and have it running in full swing to avert poverty and severe hunger.
Panganai irrigation benefits several villages in Zaka Central including Fuve, Chinyabako, Goko and Masvingamashava.villages.
Villagers who spoke to Radio VOP said that they have since lost hope in unfulfilled promises made by Chakona ahead of the 2013 elections that he would renovate the irrigation scheme which serves the district in times of dry spells as currently experienced countrywide.
“We are slowly losing hope on promises we always get that the irrigation will be revamped and operate at full scale as we knew it before. The irrigation is of great relevance to the Zaka community at large as it ensures availability of agricultural produce in any time of the year, whether there is drought or not. If it had been fully functional we would not have been much affected by this dry spell,” said Silvano Mubaiwa.
“We are still awaiting expansion of the irrigation scheme so that it benefits everyone as promised and serve the ever increasing population. If that can be achieved, the majority of us will be self sufficient as was the situation when the project was fully functional.
“We have been promised for long that as renovations of the irrigation commence, an expansion will also be considered but none of both developments has been fulfilled as yet. We are now worried because those who provide us with basic goods such as vegetables from their private gardens are expensive as compared to what the irrigation would subsidise,” said Tinos Rusere.
“Anyone would agree with me that Panganai irrigation is a lifesaver of Zaka villagers and that is why everyone in this constituency is eagerly awaiting rehabilitation of the dilapidating infrastructure of the project. The importance lies in availability of various agricultural products at any time of the year at affordable prices to the villagers.
“It is because of this importance that Chakona was able to touch the hearts of many during the 2013 elections and promised villagers that he would refurbish the project for the benefit of the general populace and finally won the parliamentary sit for Zaka Central. It is now then he must act as he promised and he should act fast so that people in his constituency do not lose trust in him,” said Cephas Dhuwa.
“This irrigation used to be our capital base because we were able to farm and sell our agricultural produce at any time of the year. When the scheme was in full swing, we were always able to acquire our basic needs after sales of our products, but now that it has dilapidated, we have adopted a hand -to-mouth kind of lifestyle. It is no longer profitable as it was then to farm at Panganai since the burst pipes usually result in exorbitant water charges from ZINWA which do not match productivity and ultimately leading to huge losses,” said Judith Mavesera.
When contacted for comment,Chakona said he has done his part in having Panganai irrigation back in form though he accused villagers of being unable to see his efforts because they are being led astray by opposition parties.
“I have done enough for my people but the problem remains that they deny simple procedures they must follow to have all they want at Panganai installed. All this is created by false information they get from the opposition parties
“I acquired equipment which should be channelled to the irrigation scheme via the More Food Brazil Program where villagers were asked to contribute towards shipment of equipment from Harare. They were then influenced by the opposition that I want to steal their money and made to believe that government will bring them all the equipment they want free of charge but that is not the case.
“All they need to do is to open an account and deposit US$100 each so that those responsible are able to bring them the needed equipment but they hold back. With this in hand, I believe I have done everything and what is left is for them to comply and have what they are yearning for,” Chakona said.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation, Davies Marapira however said government is in full swing in implementing mechanisation programs to all ailing irrigation schemes.
“Panganai irrigation scheme is a fully functional project that only needs little renovation. That is why government is undertaking mechanisation strategies that would see beneficiaries executing their work in a more easy and convenient manner. We cannot however work on expanding the scheme since it would result in feeder tributaries running dry,” said Marapira.
Meanwhile,in a recent briefing statement to the Minister of Local Governance, Public Works and National Housing Saviour Kasukuwere, Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs Shuvai Mahofa said that six projects were set to get loans for irrigation equipment under the More Food Brazil Program and listed were Chipisa, Smilingvale, Makonese and Dromore 1, 2 and 3.
Mahofa also disclosed that Shashe irrigation scheme construction works are in progress