Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
THERE is consensus that the Second Republic has done more for the people of Matabeleland in the area of infrastructure development that brings services closer to communities’ doorsteps in the five years that it has assumed power, compared to what the First Republic did since independence.
This comes amid encouragement for the people to embrace the development by identifying opportunities that are in the corridors of the projects being undertaken by the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa.
Several projects in Matabeleland North and South are set to change the face of the provinces including Bulawayo, and communities that are in the path of the projects have been advised to identify business opportunities that will bring change to their livelihoods.
Former Matabeleland North Provincial Governor who is now Zanu-PF Secretary for Administration Dr Obert Mpofu reflected on the development that has so far been achieved under the administration of President Mnangagwa saying a lot of commendable work has taken place.
“If I have to reflect on the development that has taken place in Matabeleland since the New Dispensation, there is a lot that can be said in view of what had happened before in the previous dispensation and now with the New Dispensation. There are a lot of projects that were initiated since independence. If you recall, the Zambezi Water Project has been on the radar for a long time, the pipeline which was to be linked to the project had not been done although it was on the cards but is now materialising courtesy of the Second Republic,” he said.
Dr Mpofu said since the coming in of the New Dispensation, most of the stalled projects that had been initiated before were now at completion stage.
“I am looking at the Lupane Government Complex which started in the 2000s and has been stalled for all these years until about four years ago that the new Government started working on these projects and it is almost complete. The University (Lupane State University) had been started but not completed now it is a fully fledged university. There are some developments in tourism that were initiated and not actualised. The major project of Matabeleland has been that of the water. The project is almost 80 percent complete, something that was not done for over 20 years although it was initiated in 1912 but now it is going to be a reality,” he said.
He said the Lupane Dam project was completed and villagers were benefiting from massive farming projects that were being done there such as the growing of wheat and other crops that were benefiting the community. He added that the Epping Forest underground water project, which also benefits Bulawayo, was also completed and commissioned by the President.
“Tertiary institutions are also being built in the province and are almost complete. All these developments have been done against the perception that the region is marginalised. The Bulawayo Kraal Project in Binga has been benefiting the people and that irrigation scheme is massive. These are some of the projects, including Hwange power station, that come to mind when we talk of the development of Matabeleland under the Second Republic,” added Dr Mpofu.
He lamented the time that lapsed when development was stagnant in the region, including the Lupane Provincial Hospital which started being built in 2004, but had stalled.
“Everything had been stalled, I was the governor from 2000 to 2005, we had initiated a lot of projects, the hospital project is now being finalised after such a long time. There are final touch ups that are currently being done but it is now there. I think due to financial constraints and other issues that denied people their rightful development, some projects were put on hold.
“The Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa has brought about unimaginable change for the region. The President has been here almost every month to see and supervise projects to ensure they are being done and that has never happened before that the President visits this part of the country in the manner that our current President is doing,” he said.
The thorny issue of Gukurahundi has been named as another area that has been tackled by the new administration.
“He has also looked at the issue of Gukurahundi, before, it was hard to talk about Gukurahundi but now we talk about it openly and the President has personally dealt with that issue and has spoken with the chiefs and other stakeholders.
“A lot of attention has been given to it. The President has been to Binga to attend to the issues of Binga himself which is a first of its kind. For the first time we boast of having the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange, this has encouraged a lot of investments from outside the country,” he added.
Dr Mpofu, however, said tribalising issues around education personnel in Matabeleland was not developmental.
“Zanu-PF is a national and all-encompassing party, I have seen people teaching in Mashonaland yet they are from Matabeleland, I am aware of many of those, and it is not an issue. This must be dealt with by those that deploy personnel to those areas, but people want to view it as a tribal thing, it is not. I am the Secretary General of the Party and I work in Mashonaland and I do not feel like I am outside my usual place of origin. I am there as a Zimbabwean, as a nationalist. The time to talk about tribalism and regionalism is past. Those that have such issues should raise them through correct channels, it is all to do with deployment more than regionalism. If we tribalise it then we are losing focus,” he stressed.
He said the departments that deploy personnel should ensure that they get the personnel that understands the local language and culture, saying it was not only to do with Matabeleland but deployment throughout the whole country.
Dr Mpofu said he was grateful that the President was caring, accommodative and development minded, adding that each time they sit in the Politburo or Central Committee he talks about development of all provinces and leaving no one and no place behind.
“What I am seeing is something that is unprecedented; it shows committed leadership. I want to appeal to the people to say we can do it on our own, we need to be objective, positive and ignore cheap politics. The people of Matabeleland must associate with the goings on in their province. Right now, the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project is almost 80 or more percent complete and the people should take advantage of that progress to identify areas of development along the pipeline.
“People in this region should have identified the projects by now that may be done in that region because the movement of that water to Bulawayo will create a lot of opportunities along the way. People must be identifying land along the way, shops, irrigation schemes and land for agricultural projects. But that does not seem to be taking place, not that I know of,” he said.
He appealed to leaders to remind the people about preparing themselves for this development.
“Even at the university, we have to associate ourselves with what is going on there by encouraging our children to go to school, work hard and go to these universities. We hear of people saying these universities are accommodating people from other provinces when we do not prepare ourselves, it should be a deliberate programme for us to prepare our children for the universities that have been built by the Government that are within their communities,” said Dr Mpofu.
He said it is important for communities to benefit from these developments if they also take an active role in the process.
Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution in Matabeleland South Province Cde Abednico Ncube said the rainbow province also boasts of a number of projects that had been lying in limbo but have now been activated by the New Dispensation.
“The New Dispensation is doing well, look at the Tuli-Manyange Dam project which has been in the pipeline for more than 50 years, the New Dispensation under the leadership of President Mnangagwa is doing well to ensure the project is completed. Our road networks are also being looked into, the Gwanda-Maphisa Road is under construction and the West Nicholson-Filabusi-Mberengwa road is also doing well,” he said.
He spoke highly of the new look Beitbridge Border Post which received a major facelift and has facilitated the smooth flow of human traffic and other services. The border post now meets world class gradings and was set to reduce losses by the revenue authority as it has become automated. Cde Ncube said a dialysis Unity at Beitbridge Hospital has also assisted in providing care for renal patients in and around the border town.
“Matabeleland South has transformed and the President is doing well, in the past we never had this at all. We are seeing the changes and as they say, Rome was not built in one day. We are getting our developments and more are coming, thanks to the Second Republic. Look at areas like the Guyu Irrigation Scheme, it is being resuscitated together with Zhovhe Dam where citrus farmers are doing their projects. We now have a lot of farming in that area where fruits and vegetables are being produced,” he said.
He added that in Matobo, there were irrigation schemes being run by the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) where wheat, potatoes and maize are grown which were resuscitated under the stewardship of President Mnangagwa. He however, called for an increase in support regarding medical personnel in the province as they were falling short. – @ NyembeziMu