Nqobile Tshili and Leonard Ncube
DESPITE the adverse macro-economic shocks experienced in the course of the year, development progress in Matabeleland region inched a notch higher in 2022, as the Government aggressively pushed implementation of major capital projects, which have started transforming ordinary people’s lives.
In line with President Mnangagwa’s philosophy of ensuring that ‘no one and no place is left behind’ in terms of development, the Second Republic continues to roll out transformative projects in different parts of Matabeleland, a region that has over the years been regarded ‘marginalised’ and least developed.
Using budgetary finance from the fiscus and private sector partnerships facilitation, the new dispensation is positioning the region to be a major economic player with a higher potential in leading the country in energy generation, tourism, livestock value chain, irrigation, and off-shore finance competencies, among others.
These are anchored on the devolution agenda, which promotes inclusive development.
A closer analysis shows that major milestones were registered this year in major capital projects that include; the construction of Lake Gwayi Shangani and its pipeline to Bulawayo, the US$1,5 billion Hwange Power Station Expansion project, which is nearing completion, the completion of the first phase of the US$300 million Beitbridge Border Post, Lupane Provincial Hospital, Tuli Manyange Dam in Gwanda, Mpilo Central Hospital doctors’ cottages, Cowdray Park Clinic, transformation of Binga District, and resuscitation of irrigation projects to boost food security, among others.
Reflecting on the progress achieved this year, Provincial Affairs and Devolution Ministers from Matabeleland said they were impressed by the level of commitment by the President and his Government to transform the region.
Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Minister, Judith Ncube, said President Mnangagwa has proved himself to be a competent leader who has people’s interests at heart and is passionate about inclusive development.
“With the way the President supported the developmental agenda of Bulawayo, I as the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution would wish to see him being elected for a second term,” she said.
“We have seen that he sticks to his word in terms of implementing developmental projects.
“A second term will be befitting for him so that he completes some of the projects that he has started. For instance, at the National University of Science and Technology construction works had been stagnant for 17 years but when he came to power, he directed that construction works should resume.
“Now the Technovation Centre is almost complete while the hanging construction crane has been removed. He is committed and can deliver.”
Minister Ncube said under President Mnangagwa’s leadership Bulawayo health facilities have undergone serious facelift, which is already benefiting citizens. She made reference to the rehabilitation of Mpilo doctors’ cottages, which were gutted by fire, and the construction of Cure Children’s Hospital, which offers free specialist services to children with disabilities.
The minister said the recent completion of the new state-of-the-art 20-bed health centre in Cowdray Park, as well as massive progress at Lake Gwayi-Shangani, which would provide sustainable water supplies to Bulawayo, were testimony of President Mnangagwa’s servant leadership.
“Significant progress has also been made in the construction of Lake Gwayi Shangani to address Bulawayo’s water challenges. The President also intervened in 2020 when Bulawayo was experiencing serious water challenges through availing funds to fix boreholes at Epping Forest in Nyamandlovu,” she said. “This enabled the city to get up to 20 megalitres (ML) of water per day.”
“But what is worrying is that Magwegwe Reservoir is now just getting 3ML/per day due to the vandalism of electricity and water infrastructure. But the President has made interventions considering the number of lives that were lost in 2020 in the city.”
Through public-private partnerships, Minister Ncube said new classroom blocks were being constructed in schools across the city to address congestion. She, however, said more work needs to be done especially in fixing roads, which are seriously dilapidated.
“We need more roads to be attended to. We have model roads such Masiyephambili Road and George Avenue that were attended to and are more trafficable.
“We would like to see more durable work being done. We don’t want to see for instance road rehabilitation works being done on the same roads, which is costly to Government. We also want more houses for doctors to be completed so that we retain the medical staff.”
Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Richard Moyo, said his province was perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the Second Republic’s development drive.
For instance, Matabeleland North was the only province that did not have a teachers’ college but will have pioneer students graduating at Hwange Teachers College next year.
The Second Republic has also established a polytechnic college in Binga to uplift the previously marginalised BaTonga people, including rehabilitating the Binga Airstrip to promote tourism.
“As a province, we are very happy with the progress made in the projects and we look forward to their completion. The Gwayi-Shangani Dam wall is 60 percent complete while Hwange Unit 7 is complete and construction at Lupane Provincial Hospital is progressing well,” said Moyo.
“So, we are more than happy because we have been commissioning clinics and schools in every district using Devolution Funds. We look forward to the completion of all these projects in the first quarter of next year. Matabeleland North will not be the same again. These projects will change people’s lives.”
Minister Moyo said more local communities have benefitted through employment and the provision of services to existing projects while the completion of Lupane Provincial Hospital will bring health services to people’s doorsteps. He noted that the Gwayi-Shangani project will not only provide water to drink but create an economic greenbelt along the pipeline to Bulawayo.
“These projects will transform lives in a way we have never seen since 1980 and everyone is excited. So, I think we are leading as a province in terms of projects,” added Minister Moyo.
Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Abednego Ncube, said President Mnangagwa’s Government is developing his province brick by brick with several projects in different stages of progress including Tuli-Manyange Dam, which has been in limbo for many years.
“The construction of the dam was neglected for more than 51 years. But the New Dispensation under President E.D. Mnangagwa has started its construction. It will serve communities led by Chief Mathema, Chief Nhlamba and Chief Marupi,” he said.
“Irrigation projects will be implemented in those areas to uplift lives. Major roads such as the Gwanda-Maphisa Road, which had not been attended for many years are now being attended to.”
Minister Ncube said the construction of Gwanda State University’s main campus is set to commence next year while the university, which operates from Epoch Mine Campus in Insiza, held its inaugural graduation last month.
He said the reconstruction of Beitbridge Border Post is also evidence of how the Government is committed to modernising the country.
“The Government under the Second Republic is doing a sterling job and our people are also impressed with the developmental trajectory,” said Minister Ncube.
Outside development projects, President Mnangagwa has succeeded in officially launching the traditional leaders’ led Gukurahundi community hearings programme, which is expected to resolve the long-standing contestations regarding the early 1980s civil conflict.