Three of five main reservoirs in Zimbabwe's second city have dried up. The fourth is expected to be empty next month and the last one will be able to supply only 16per cent of the city's already tightly rationed needs.
"If we have even a mediocre rainy season this summer, we are faced with the spectre of Bulawayo literally shutting down," said David Coltart, MP of theMovement for Democratic Change.
The water crisis is a dangerous extra strain on Bulawayo, which is already reeling from the country's hyperinflation, critical shortages of basic food and electricity supplies, and the political repression witnessed in the rest of the country. Church and political leaders believe Mr Mugabe is determined to let Bulawayo wither without water. The Government has ignored repeated appeals for help.
"The problem is political," said the Reverend Kevin Thomson, a leading figure in Churches In Bulawayo, an alliance of the city's churches which has begun an emergency water supply operation in the townships. "They don't want to fix the problem. Just as they control the supply of food for political purposes, water has become another area for controlling people."..."
Note: Bulawayo is Ndebele, and Mugabe is Mashona. Mugabe had ruthlessly put down Ndebele dissadents and insurgents with the help of North Korea in the 1980's with little publicity, and many of his main opponants are Ndebele. Partly this is cultural, since the Ndebele are a Zulu offshoot and have a warrior tradition, and are "newcomers" to the region.. The Mashona are better educated but culturally tend to be passive/aggressive, so would leave the country rather than stand up and fight. This is one reason that Mugabe has stayed in power so long.