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The Chronicle

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Mashudu Netsianda, Deputy News Editor 

THE provincial capital of Matabeleland North, Lupane springs to life today as President Mnangagwa visits the district to interact with youths at the national youth indaba on drug and substance abuse during the National Youth Day celebrations.

The visit by the President comes at a time when the Government under his stewardship is implementing a number of key developmental projects in the district and province at large. 

The projects being spearheaded by the Second Republic in Lupane, are among the visible developments aimed at upgrading previously marginalised areas, under the philosophy of leaving no one and no place behind as the country gallops towards the achievement of an upper-middle income economy by 2030.

For a largely rural province previously viewed as lagging behind in terms of development despite its vast natural resources, Matabeleland North has the potential of transforming into a formidable economic hub due to its critical sectors such as tourism, timber, gold mining and agriculture. 

Untitled 8 10 Workers put up a banner at the venue of the National Youth Day in Lupane

Various projects being spearheaded by the Second Republic in Lupane are expected to speed up the growth of Lupane Town, which is the Matabeleland North provincial capital. 

Lupane was given town status in 1999, marking the start of a long process of relocation of various provincial services and offices from Bulawayo to Lupane centre. 

Final touches are being made on the construction of the Welshman Mabhena Government Complex to house almost all provincial Government offices while the construction of Lupane Provincial Hospital —the first-ever referral health institution in Matabeleland North Province, is set for completion by year-end. 

Upon completion, there will be a training of health specialists at the hospital, a process that will result in the availability of top-notch health services locally.

In October last year, Government commissioned Lupane Magistrates’ Court whose construction was spearheaded by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC). 

In September 2021, President Mnangagwa launched the Arda Vision 2030 accelerator model programme at Bubi-Lupane Irrigation Scheme to stimulate rural industrialisation through agricultural development. 

The 200-hectare irrigation scheme was identified as a pilot project for an integrated business model to be replicated by 450 irrigation schemes across the country as the Second Republic accelerates rural development and industrialisation. 

Today, the irrigation scheme, which is situated in Mpofu Village under Chief Mabhikwa, has been turned into a green belt. It is one of the flagship Government projects that symbolises hope for 90 families. 

Through Government support, Bubi-Lupane Irrigation Scheme helped transform subsistence agriculture at the household level into commercial agriculture as part of rural development and industrialisation in line with Vision 2030, which is anchored on driving the country’s economy into an upper middle-income one.

In November last year, President Mnangagwa launched the Dryland Agro Innovation and Industrialisation Park at Lupane State University (LSU).

The facility is set to spur innovation in semi-arid agriculture, wildlife management, forestry, and rural development while also propping knowledge and technology-driven industries for the benefit of communities in Matabeleland North province. 

LSU is one of the beneficiaries of the Government’s $7,2 billion funding for local universities’ innovation hubs and infrastructural development. It is mandated to conduct research on the Dryland Agro Innovation and Industrialisation Programme with the aim of solving agriculture-related challenges in semi-arid regions of Matabeleland and other parts of the country. 

The park is expected to industrialise agriculture in the province and is already producing various breeds of pigs, goats, and chickens at a mass scale. Smallholder farmers are the biggest beneficiaries of the park, as they can now produce, not only for their own sustenance but for commercial markets around the country as well. 

In an interview yesterday, Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo said the President’s visit to the province is an indication of his hands-on approach towards the Second Republic’s drive to bring about inclusive growth anchored on the empowerment of local communities.

“We are happy as a province to host the President, His Excellency, President Mnangagwa on Tuesday. As Matabeleland North, we are the biggest beneficiaries in terms of development that leaves no one and no place behind,” he said. 

“Under the Second Republic, the President thrives to bring about inclusive growth that is anchored on empowerment of local communities in line with Vision 2030 and the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).”

Minister Moyo singled out Lake Gwayi-Shangani, the US$1,4 billion Hwange Thermal Power Station Unit 7 and 8 expansion project, Lupane Provincial Hospital construction, and Welshman Mabhena Government Complex as some of the projects being spearheaded by the Government in the province.

Untitled 10 8

Turning to the National Youth Day Celebrations, the minister urged youths to desist from drug and substance abuse.

Minister Moyo said they expect 20 000 youths from the province to attend the event.

“His Excellency, President Mnangagwa will address youths on issues to do with drugs abuse, which has become a big challenge in our country. As a province, we urge youths to come in their numbers and listen to the President’s message, and desist from drug abuse,” he said.

“We expect 20 000 youths from the province to be part of the celebrations.”

Chief director in the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Dr Benson Dube said all is set for the event with thousands of youths drawn from the country’s 10 provinces expected to attend.

“Everything is set for the National Youth Day celebrations formerly the February 21th Movement, which was in honour of the late former President Mugabe. The event is aimed at bringing the youths together from all over country, hear their issues and that if the nation has anything to address to the youths this is opportune time,” he said.

“This year we are focusing on the theme of drugs and substance abuse. Drugs are destroying the future generating of our country. As a Government, we are trying to move towards achieving the goals of Vision 2030.”

Dr Dube said it was sad that drugs were now finding their way to schools. He said this year’s event is aimed at raising awareness to keep youths away from society’s ills of drug and substance abuse.

“As a ministry we have declared this whole week, a youth week and we expect activities on drugs and substance abuse prevention. Schools can do dramas, poetry and talk about this scourge,” he said.

Dr Dube said they have also engaged the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services to assist the youths by conscientising them since most youthful inmates are incarcerated because of drug abuse.

When the Chronicle news crew arrived at LSU, the venue of the event, workers from the Department of Public Works were busy doing final touches and pitching the tent.

The programme will start at 8am and end at 2pm. Each province is expected to host a Youth Indaba that will bring approximately 500 youths and delegates.

Minister Mutsvangwa said the indaba would be used to engage local community leaders, business and development partners to reflect on the extent of drug and substance abuse in their communities, map partners carrying out mitigation measures against drug and substance abuse, engage local authorities and the business sector on opportunities locally available for economic participation of youth.

Robert Gabriel Mugabe National Youth Day is celebrated every year on February 21 to recognise youth and to reflect on their contributions to socio-economic development and encourage them to adopt sound leadership values by emulating the ethos espoused by national liberators since independence.

As the country grapples with the need to end drug abuse, the Government has quickly moved in to ensure that all engagements by the youths carry the message of discouraging drug abuse. Zimbabwe is witnessing an upsurge in drug abuse cases and most of those abusing drugs are young people.

The illegal practice has been worsened by the fact that there are no rehabilitation centres in the country and addicts are likely to relapse even after treatment at Ingutsheni Central Hospital. 

This comes at a time when Zimbabwe is working towards a drug-free society through a drug master plan which will help the country achieve Vision 2030.

The master plan aims at dealing with drug and substance abuse in society.

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