By Khumbulani Maphosa (Assistant Information Officer)
The more than four years old Thornville dispute between commercial and communal farmers over the management of water is on the path to being resolved thanks to the mediation efforts of Habakkuk Trust and Watermark Consultancy.
The conflict resolution meeting was held on the 2nd of September 2009 at the Habakkuk Trust boardroom and was chaired by the Habakkuk Trust Programmes Co-ordinator, Miss Belinda Gumbo, who has received intensive training in conflict resolution and mediation issues in Zambia and the United States of America.
The meeting resolved that the dam water management that was initially given to Happy Valley Farm by Shashe Catchment Area sometime in 2007 be taken over by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) and all those who would like to use the water to do it via ZINWA. It was also agreed that communal farmers should be more organized in their operations, should craft strict governance and management regulations so as to curb rampant poaching and water wasting behaviors. The communal farmers were also encouraged to think commercially and regard their farming activities as viable businesses.
The meeting also resolved that security measures to minimize water wastage and crop destruction should be enforced.
ZINWA was tasked with conducting site visits and the drafting of the water use agreement forms that will be signed by all the farmers. It was also mandated with coming up with a mechanism of ensuring that Happy Valley farm, which has already paid for use of all the water in the dam be compensated.
A follow up meeting for ironing out some remaining issues was scheduled for the 30th of September at the Habakkuk Trust boardroom. The remaining issues include ZINWA reporting on progress and for the communal farmers to report their progress in terms of rules and laws that will govern them. It is hoped that this meeting will bring a lasting solution to the long standing scuffle.
The meeting was attended by representatives of communal farmers, several commercial tenant farmers, a representative of ZINWA, Watermark Consultancy, Pro-Africa and Habakkuk Trust staff.