With the 2005 parliamentary election in Zimbabwe beckoning, never has the Matabeleland region witnessed so many promises of development from President Robert Mugabe’s government.
Development projects worth about a trillion-Zimbabwean dollars have been promised. The Matabeleland region, that seems to have been forgotten by the government in the past 24 years, has suddenly been rediscovered as President Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party goes on a massive drive to win votes.
The sleepy town of Lupane, the proposed capital of Matabeleland North, is a hive of activity.
The town was recently was accorded provincial capital status after former governor Welshman Mabhena opted for Hwange as the provincial capital.
Just a stone’s throw from the home of the late Movement for Democratic Change member of Parliament for Lupane, David Mpala, bulldozers and earthmovers are tearing at the earth in preparation for the construction of a dam to supply the town with drinking water.
The dam is expected to cost over Z$300-million.
According to the government, Matabeleland will soon realise the fruits of the long-promised Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP) and the upgrading of Tsholotsho and the Kezi roads, while Lupane will boast a fully-fledged university, a state-of-the-art provincial hospital, a provincial police headquarters, recreational facilities, a bank and an upmarket hotel.
The MZWP has been on the drawing board since 1912 and is expected to cost about Z$150-billion to complete.
Mugabe was in Lupane last week to launch the site where hundreds of homes for civil servants will be constructed.
The government is expected to fork out Z$250-million in infrastructural development for the centre.
The ambitious water project has remained rooted in the planning stages and the Zanu-PF government has used it as an electioneering tool for a long time.
The government has promised to spend Z$150-billion on the proposed Lupane state university which is to have its first intake in September.
“The people of Matabeleland will always remain sceptical about the intentions behind these development projects,” said Gorden Moyo, a commentator from the Bulawayo Dialogue institute.
“If the government is genuine then we should see the projects going on even when Zanu-PF loses the election next year.”
Moyo said the Matabeleland water project had always been Zanu-PF’s election trump card.
“Similarly, the government has been using the land issue for the last 20 years but would shelve the idea once the elections were over. Zanu-PF history tells us that we should be sceptical of them.”
Other projects in the offing include the construction of a hotel in Tsholotsho.
A hotel group says it was invited by Information Minister Jonathan Moyo to construct the hotel. Moyo has been donating generously in the area where he wants to stand as a member of Parliament next year.
In July, Moyo poured more than Z$100-million in the space of one week into Tsholotsho. He also donated Z$125-million to various institutions.
In the second week of July, Moyo donated more than 700 blankets worth Z$90-million to several health institutions and a day later donated two computers and a printer worth Z$22,1-million to Tsholotsho hospital. A few days later the minister donated a computer and printer worth Z$13-million to Tsholotsho police.
Moyo has also donated medical equipment worth Z$28-million and 1 000 bags of cement worth Z$40-million to various institutions in the constituency. - Zimbabwe Independent