BULAWAYO - A conference of donors to raise money for the provision of water in Zimbabwe's second biggest city of Bulawayo which was held last week flopped with the city only managing to raise a paltry Z$96 000.
Water shortages are a perennial problem in Bulawayo which is nestled in the dry southern Matabeleland province. Residents here have often gone for weeks without water forcing many of them to rely on boreholes for their water supplies.
Bulawayo city spokesman, Pathisa Nyathi said the city had hoped to raise Z$4.8 billion during the conference to fund short and medium term projects to alleviate the city's water crisis.
Yesterday, Nyathi, conceded to ZimOnline that the city had failed to meet its targets during the poorly attended conference.
"The amount the council has received in pledges and cash so far is not much but we are very grateful for those that donated and pledged money towards our water projects.
"But we will be in a good position to comment (on the total amounts raised) when everyone who was present at the conference has responded," Nyathi said.
Residents of Bulawayo, a bastion of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, have often accused President Robert Mugabe's government of deliberately sidelining the region after failing to fund an ambitious project to draw water from the mighty Zambezi River in the north.
Critics accuse Mugabe of reneging on promises to fund the Matabeleland-Zambezi water project, with his government only eager to raise the matter during election times to win votes from the mainly minority Ndebele ethnic group.
The Harare authorities deny the charge.