Freedom Mupanedemo Midlands Bureau
The Midlands Province is commonly regarded as the heartbeat of the nation mainly due to its location at the epicentre of the country.
As the country moves to attain an empowered upper middle income economy by 2030, the Second Republic has set up a devolution fund which is being used to transform all the provinces.
This year, Government had set aside $19,4 billion under the devolution fund and councils got varying allocations to purchase capital equipment such as graders and front-end loaders for use to transform communities.
Through the devolution funds, Midlands Province used the funds to build clinics, schools, toilets, roads and other infrastructure.
Outside of devolution, the Midlands Province clinched a US$1 billion iron ore and steel plant being set up in Manhize, Mvuma, by top Chinese investor, Tsingshan Holdings Group.
On completion, the plant is expected to be the second largest steel plant in Africa with over 4 500 employees.
The plant, which is set to be operational by June 2022, is poised to become the biggest forex earner for the country.
In terms of devolution, the Midlands Province scored big this year when the provincial capital, Gweru, became the first city to adopt the Government’s smart city concept after modernising its Kudzanai Long Distance Bus Terminus, into a world class terminus where other cities can now learn from.
The new-look terminus, with modern facilities including market stalls and cash-less tap cards, was commissioned by President Mnangagwa, who challenged all other cities to adopt the concept. President Mnangagwa’s administration has been emphasising on infrastructure development, with each local authority receiving a significant amount of money under devolution.
There has been notable infrastructural development throughout the province with local authorities using devolution funds to improve roads, water and sanitation, health and educational infrastructure.
Developments in the ‘City of Progress’
Gweru City is referred to as the City of Progress, and many people naturally expected a lot of development, in sync with its moniker. However that did not happen over the past few years, because the corrupt opposition MDC presided over infrastructure decay of huge proportions.
Clean water provision had become dead; roads had become impassable while sewer would flow everywhere.
But enter the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa, the lost glamour is returning in the cities, not just Gweru, but across the country. Sprucing up of cities is happening after the President demanded that proper services be restored.
Since 2017, four new water pumps were installed at the city supply dam, Gwenoro, to improve on water and sewer reticulation.
Gweru City also entered into partnership with the Government and a private contractor to come up with one of the best long distance bus terminuses.
The only anti-climax to ever happen in 2021, in Gweru City was its street lighting project.
An incompetent contractor was hired to install solar lights, which barely worked for a week. The residents, through the Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association, have been calling for a probe to establish who authorised the project which also saw the installation of substandard street light poles, the majority of which have since been knocked down by motorists.
Devolution felt in Kwekwe
Kwekwe is President Mnangagwa’s home town, and authorities in the city have put devolution funds to good use.
The city used part of its devolution allocation to turn a city bar into an Infectious Diseases Hospital, the first of its kind in the province. The 23 bed hospital was commissioned by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga.
Zvishavane becomes the odd one out
The mining town has been the only major disappointment in terms of development in 2021, after it spent the better part of the year being run by an interim management.
The alleged corrupt activities and shenanigans at the Town House, resulted in the arrest of the entire management by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC).
All of the council managers, led by town secretary, Tinomuda Mukutu remain on suspension pending investigations but they are all said to be on full benefits.
Gokwe in huge infrastructure development
The cotton growing town recorded some successes in 2021 thanks to devolution funds.
The town received $22 million under devolution in 2021 which it used to improve education infrastructure by constructing a polytechnic college.
A beer hall was also turned into a clinic.
Chirumanzu builds clinics, classroom blocks
It received $20 million under devolution and it was mainly invested in construction of clinics, classroom blocks and drilling of boreholes.
Some of the clinics built using devolution funds include Chimbindi, Hwata and Doroguru clinics.
Part of the funds were also used to build classroom blocks at Musena Secondary and Herbert Mahlaba Primary.
Vungu boosts clean water provision
The council used devolution funds in the education health, water and sanitation areas.
The local authority also purchased a tipper truck and a front-end loader. Clinics built using devolution funds include Impala, Shagari and Ruby.