Zambia has since 2004 refused to sign and ratify the protocol.
Even the SADC Ministers of Water meeting that took place in Bulawayo failed to break the impasse. The ministers were expected to meet behind closed doors later on the issue.
Zambia has been refusing to sign the Zamcom protocol on the basis that 75 percent of the Zambezi River basin is in Zambia and they also contribute 42 percent of Zambezi River water. Zambia wants those aspects to be captured and factored in when it comes to water abstraction from the Zambezi River, something not currently considered in the standing protocol.
The Zamcom protocol will see Zimbabwe and seven other Southern African Development Community (SADC) states being in a position to draw water from the Zambezi River.
The Minister of Water Resources Development and Management, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, said; “At the moment Zambia has still not signed and ratified the protocol but talks are still on-going to make sure that they sign and ratify the protocol. At the moment I will not give further details.”
Zimbabwe plans to draw water under the ambitious Matabeleland Zambezi water project but the country will need all the countries that draw water from the Zambezi river to consent to Zimbabwe drawing water from the river.
Currently, seven of the eight countries have signed the protocol, but only four out of the seven have ratified it.
Ratification is the adoption of the protocol by each of the countries’ parliaments.
The SADC ministers’ water conference ended in Bulawayo on Friday afternoon and was officially opened by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Water ministers from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania, Mozambique, Namibia and Angola attended the conference which was held under the theme: ‘Communicating regional water challenges for a dynamic takeoff to meet the Millennium Development Goals.’