George Maponga Masvingo Bureau
The recent completion of the giant Tokwe Mukosi Dam in Chivi has sparked a stampede for business opportunities, with over 20 000 individuals and companies having already submitted applications for fishing licences at the reservoir.
Tokwe Mukosi Dam was completed on December 10 last year and the dam has so far collected over 1,2 billion cubic metres of water which translates to about 70 percent of it’s capacity.
The dam was built at a cost of $255 million and has a capacity of 1,8 billion cubic metres, making it Zimbabwe’s largest inland dam.
Besides potential to irrigate over 25 000 hectares in arid parts of southern Masvingo, Tokwe Mukosi Dam also offers opportunities for tourism and creation of a vibrant fisheries industry.
Chivi Rural District Council chairperson Dr Killer Zivhu said on Monday that individuals and companies from all over Zimbabwe were stampeding for fishing licences at Tokwe Mukosi.
He said the dam offered vast economic opportunities for the people of Masvingo and Chivi District.
“So far preliminary reports indicate that over 20 000 applications for fishing licences have been submitted as individuals and companies position themselves to have part of the Tokwe Mukosi cake and my fear is that local people will lose if they do not prepare to exploit the vast opportunities created by the dam,’’ he said.
Dr Zivhu, who was addressing hundreds of rural councillors drawn from across Masvingo at Nemanwa Growth Point where he was launching a provincial campaign to mobilise more than 2,3 million votes for President Mugabe in next year’s elections, said the people of Masvingo were supposed to be the biggest beneficiaries of Tokwe Mukosi Dam.
“The dam will change our lives in a way that has never happened in this country since the attainment of independence, so the challenge that we have is to make sure our people are prepared to fully exploit the dam’s water, be it through irrigation, fishing or whatever venture,’’ he said.
Dr Zivhu said Government deserved a pat on the back for mobilising funding to complete Tokwe Mukosi, even in the face of ruinous economic sanctions imposed by the West at the turn of the millennium in protest against the land reform programme.
A perennial greenbelt is envisaged to be created in the southern parts of Masvingo that will be irrigated by Tokwe Mukosi water, propelling the province to a major irrigation hub and breadbasket of Zimbabwe.
Sugarcane production is expected to shoot up by 15 percent in the Lowveld, while new cane plantations will also be created preferably in the vast Nuanetsi Ranch, which can be easily irrigated with Tokwe Mukosi water.
A $20 million 15 megawatt mini-hydro power plant, with capacity to produce enough power to light up the whole of Masvingo province, is already under construction at the dam, while plans are afoot to create a mega national park around the dam.
President Mugabe is expected to commission the dam on May 19.