Nduduzo Tshuma Political Editor—
THE Minister of Water, Climate and Environment Oppah Muchinguri has been accused of stalling development projects in Tsholotsho by frustrating an elephant hunt which had been okayed by her predecessor Saviour Kasukuwere, now the local government minister. Kasukuwere issued hunting quotas for 50 elephants to the Tsholotsho Rural District Council to support the first stages of the construction of the Tsholotsho FC stadium, mooted last year by local MP Professor Jonathan Moyo.
Further hunting permits had been issued for 20 elephants, with the money being earmarked for developmental projects including the drilling of boreholes and building of clinics in the area. Hunters pay anything up to $30,000 to kill an elephant.
Tsholotsho RDC chairperson Cde Alois Ndebele, speaking at the handover of a classroom block at Mbiriya Primary School by Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko in Tsholotsho yesterday, said they had met with frustration when they tried to pursue the hunting quotas with Muchinguri.
Cde Ndebele, who is also a Zanu-PF central committee member, said Muchinguri’s predecessor Kasukuwere had done all the paperwork to allow the RDC to hunt the elephants but after her transfer to the ministry, things came to a halt.
President Robert Mugabe, in a cabinet reshuffle late last year, moved Muchinguri from the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development to replace Cde Kasukuwere who was given the Local Government, Rural and Urban Development portfolio vacated by Cde Ignatius Chombo who was transferred to the Home Affairs portfolio.
Cde Ndebele said some of the international hunters they had engaged to carry out the hunts had already gone back to their countries following unexplained obstacles thrown up by the new minister’s office.
“Tsholotsho shares a border with Hwange National Park which is overpopulated, especially with elephants and buffalo. Last year, we were promised elephants, some to build a stadium and others to sink boreholes in the district that would benefit even the said animals that stray into villages when water sources dry,” said Cde Ndebele.
“We passed a resolution last year that we request to be given more elephants in our quota and sent it to the then minister, Cde Kasukuwere. He gave us the required elephants and all the paperwork was done. We have all the documents in the office but after the new minister was appointed, things just started stalling, there has not been any movement.
“The hunters we had engaged were frustrated as they failed to get hunting licences and some of them have gone back to their respective countries. We appeal to VP Mphoko to assist us in this regard because we must use our natural resources for the development of our community.”
Cde Ndebele said the district had a poor road network, describing the Bulawayo-Tsholotsho road as a death trap. He said the district needed funds to build clinics and hospital as well as sink boreholes so that people will not have to walk long distances to access services and water.
In response, Mphoko promised to engage the minister, instructing his principal director Themba Ndlovu to call Muchinguri’s permanent secretary to make sure that all the blockages are cleared for the hunts to start. “We’ll look into that and make sure that whatever delays that are there are dealt with so that the people can benefit,” he said.
On hospitals and clinics, Mphoko called on the community to work together and construct the buildings, adding that the Minister of Health and Child Care David Parirenyatwa would then provide staff and medicine.
“I was in Mutoko commissioning a school and the people had similar cries about clinics. Parirenyatwa assured me that if the communities build structures, he’ll supply them with medicine and staff,” said Mphoko.
He also assured thousands of villagers, who had come to witness the handover of the classroom block that the government would not let people starve as measures were already in place for them to be provided with food as a cushion from the ravages of drought. He also commissioned a borehole sunk by Professor Moyo for the community and sports facilities at the school organised by the MP.
Mphoko said he had made a promise to build the classroom block on June 7 last year at a rally campaigning for Professor Moyo, who was contesting in the Tsholotsho North by election which he won resoundingly.
He said the completion of the block was testimony that his promise was not a gimmick but a commitment, adding that the government, through its Zim-Asset economic policy, was addressing educational needs and deficiencies in the sector under the Social Services and Poverty Eradication cluster that he chairs in the Cabinet.
He paid tribute to companies that answered his call to chip in with materials for the classroom block — MacDonald Bricks, PPC Zimbabwe, JR Goddard Contracting, Sondelani Ranch, Tregers Group of Companies, Halsteds Brothers, Premier Medical Aid Society, UBM, Buy n Build, Antelope Park and Kolbro.
During last year’s rally, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa also donated $5,000 to the school which was used to refurbish another classroom block and also used to buy sports kits.
Yesterday, Matabeleland North provincial affairs Minister Cain Mathema pledged to build an Early Childhood Development classroom block at the school while Zanu-PF youths led by Cde Tongai Kasukuwere pledged to sponsor the school with more sports kits.