President arrives for Matabeleland South visit
Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Mat South Bureau Chief
MATABELELAND South will be under the spotlight as President Mnangagwa is today expected to commission the Blanket Mine Central Shaft in Gwanda District during his two-day visit to the province.
The hectic schedule will also see the President later in the day commissioning Public Service Commission (PSC) buses before winding up the day by addressing a rally at Phelandaba Stadium in Gwanda Town.
He will also interact with the provincial leadership to get an update on progress made in the implementation of key developmental projects in the province, a ratification of the Second Republic’s development agenda of leaving no one and no place behind.
For a largely rural province previously viewed as lagging behind in terms of development despite its vast natural resources, Matabeleland South has the potential of transforming into a formidable economic hub due to its critical sectors such as gold mining, livestock and tourism.
Tomorrow, President Mnangagwa will officiate at the Gwanda State University (GSU) inaugural graduation ceremony, which will be held Epoch Mine in Filabusi, the university’s main campus.
The Blanket Gold Mine Central Shaft project is one of the flagship mining investment projects being implemented as the country moves towards achieving a US$12 billion mining economy by 2023.
The Government and private sector players in the mining industry are resolute in their commitments towards achieving the target.
Zimbabwe launched the Strategic Road to the Achievement of US$12 billion by 2023 in October 2019 as part of the broader macroeconomic roadmap towards achieving an upper middle-income economy by 2030.
The multi-billion-dollar industry will be driven by gold, platinum, diamond, chrome, iron ore, coal, lithium, and other minerals.
Caledonia Mining Corporation, which owns the mine, poured in US$67 million into the project which started in 2015.
The development is part of the fruits of the “Zimbabwe is open for business” policy.
Zimbabwe’s goal of attaining an upper middle-income economy by 2030 is underpinned on increased production by various sectors of the economy.
There a number of milestone projects being undertaken by the Second Republic towards attainment of Vision 2030. Notable projects in Matabeleland South include the construction of Tuli Manyange Dam in Gwanda District and the US$300 million Beitbridge Border Post modernisation and upgrade project.
Treasury released $43 million last year to expedite the Tuli Manyange Dam project whose deadline for completion is December next year. Once complete, the dam, with a holding capacity of 35 million cubic metres, is expected to provide raw water for irrigation purposes and boost food security.
It is envisaged that once Tuli- Manyange Dam is complete, at least 2 000 hectares will put under irrigation. The dam is expected to service several business centres, irrigations and institutions.
President Mnangagwa recently commissioned some of the completed works under the US$300 million Beitbridge Border Post modernisation and upgrade project.
The upgrading and modernisation of Beitbridge Border Post will help speed up the implementation of the One-Stop Border Post concept between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The project brings with it an array of benefits which include employment creation, facilitation of trade and investment, business travel and tourism. The border post is a gateway to the rest of Africa with an estimated 1 000 vehicles and 15 000 people passing through the port of entry daily.
As part of Government’s efforts to mainstream local languages and promote sustainable development, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), which falls under the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, issued a licence to Ntepe-Manama Community Radio Station in Gwanda.
The radio station was recently commissioned by Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa.
Establishment of the radio station is in line with the devolution policy which is anchored on values and principles that guarantee equitable sharing of local and national resources including enhancing participation of local communities in decision making processes.
Government has also rolled out the Presidential Rural Poultry Scheme whose ultimate objective is to have the country’s annual chicken production leaping to 450 million with an estimated value of US$2,7 billion by 2025.
In Matabeleland South, the scheme was recently launched at Diba village in Bulilima District with 2 500 villagers receiving 25 000 chicks.
The project is part of Government’s broader vision of creating a US$8,5 billion agricultural industry by 2025 which dovetails with the Second Republic’s signature vision of having an upper-middle income economy by 2030.
President Mnangagwa also launched Sekusile Nutrition Garden in December last year in the remote village of Makorokoro in Mangwe as part of the rural industrialisation programme.
The project was launched as a model scheme, which will be replicated across the country’s 35 000 villages.
Government, working with various partners, is rehabilitating irrigation schemes that have been lying idle in Matabeleland South Province to improve food and nutrition security.
A number of irrigation facilities that had been lying idle in the province have been revived while others that were being underutilised have been capacitated and expanded. New irrigation schemes have also been established include the 200-hectare Mtshabezi Irrigation Scheme in Gwanda which had stalled for 87 years.
In an interview yesterday, Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Abedinico Ncube said the visit by the President is a reflection of his commitment towards development of the province.
“We feel greatly honoured as a province to host His Excellency President Mnangagwa who will be officiating at such crucial events. He will also speak to the people, which is a sign that he is a people centred leader,” he said.
“Tomorrow (today), the President will commission the Blanket Mine Central Shaft before later proceeding to Phelandaba Stadium in Gwanda where he will commission buses as well as address people at Pelandaba Stadium. On Thursday he will officiate at the Gwanda State University.”
Minister Ncube said as a province they are grateful to the President for spearheading development and reviving some of the projects that had stalled for years.
He said projects such as irrigation development have helped create employment and boosted food and nutrition security. The minister said infrastructural development projects such as road works being carried out under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme (ERRP) are key in driving development in the province.
Matabeleland South provincial director for economic affairs in Minister Ncube’s office, Mr Richmond Ncube said the projects which are underway in the province will contribute significantly to economic development and growth of the province’s GDP.
“The modernisation and upgrade of the Beitbridge Border Post will lead to an increase in traffic and trade thus bringing in more revenue. It will also bring in a lot of investment to Beitbridge and other towns which are along the highway thereby contributing towards development of the economy,” he said.
Mr Ncube said the Tuli Manyange Dam project will go a long way in ensuring food and nutrition security and water supply. He said it will also pave way for income generating projects such as irrigation schemes and fisheries.
Mr Ncube said infrastructure development projects in tertiary institutions in the province are part of the implementation of Education 5.0 which promotes industrialisation, modernisation and innovation.
He said projects such as the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Polytechnic Home Economics Complex will help generate human capital, a key driver of industrialisation.
The project, which is nearing completion will house a clothing factory and accommodate students pursuing practical courses in tourism and hospitality, professional cookery, textile and clothing design.
Once completed, the Home Economic block is envisioned to become a major Food Science and Technology Centre and an incubation ground for more industries that will birth a vibrant food technology industry.
Acting provincial director for agricultural rural development services in Matabeleland South, Mr Mkhunjulelwa Ndlovu said irrigation development in the province will go a long way in addressing issues of food and nutrition security and employment creation.
He said while the province lies in a semi-arid region characterised by low rainfall, it has several water bodies complemented by good soils which are favourable for massive irrigation activities.
“We have seen huge development in the province in terms of irrigation development. This is the first and most crucial step in rural industrialisation. As a province we can’t do any sound cropping activity in this region without supplementary irrigation since we are a dry region,” he said.