WITH the 2005 parliamentary election beckoning, never has the Matabeleland region witnessed so many promises of development and attention from President Mugabe’s government.
Development projects likely to surpass the trillion-dollar mark have been promised. The Matabeleleland region, forgotten in the past 24 years, has suddenly been rediscovered as President Mugabe’s Zanu PF goes on a massive drive to win votes.
Lupane, the proposed capital of Matabeleland North, is a hive of activity where an assortment of equipment has been offloaded in the sleepy growth point that recently was accorded provincial capital status after former governor Welshman Mabhena had opted for Hwange as the provincial capital.
Just a stone’s throw from the home of the late MDC MP for Lupane, David Mpala, bulldozers and earthmovers are tearing at the earth as preparations for the construction of a dam to supply Lupane with drinking water move a gear up.
The completion of the dam is expected to cost over $300 million.
According to 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 the sleepy town of 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, among other things.
The MZWP, on the drawing board since 1912, is now estimated to cost a whopping $150 billion to complete.
Mugabe was in Lupane last week to officially launch the site where housing for the hundreds of civil servants who are expected to throng the service centre will be constructed.
The government is expected to fork out $250 million in infrastructural developments 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.
Government has promised to spend $150 billion on the proposed Lupane State University which is to have its fist intake in September.
“The people of Matabeleland will always remain sceptical about the intentions behind these development projects,” Gorden Moyo, a Bulawayo Dialogue commentator, said. “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 an MP next year.
In July Moyo poured over $100 million in a space of one week into Tsholotsho. Moyo has donated $125 million to various institutions.
In the second week of July Moyo donated over 700 blankets worth $90 million to several health institutions and followed that a day later with a donation of two computers and a printer worth $22,1 million to Tsholotsho hospital.
A few days later the minister made another donation of a computer and printer worth $13 million to Tsholotsho police.
Moyo has also donated medical equipment worth $28 million and 1 000 bags of cement worth $40 million to various institutions in the constituency.