Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
THE Government has put the empowerment of women and youths at the centre of its programming in Bulawayo, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube has said.
Prof Ncube said this after a tour of the country’s second largest city last week when he had a chance to inspect prospective projects by women and youths who bemoaned crippling water shortages as a handicap to their success.
The Treasury chief said henceforth the Government is focused on improving their lives for the better by funding and equipping their small to medium enterprises as well as starting new ventures.
“We have been given a great opportunity to start projects that benefit and change the lives of youths here in Bulawayo. I engaged the youths one time when I was in Bulawayo and they told me they had no water in some parts of the city as they said they wanted to do brick moulding, building and welding. They also spoke of women who also wanted assistance for their bakery projects and get raw materials. I took heed of their concerns and have managed to deliver.
We started by drilling a borehole and we then decided to buy materials for brick moulding such as cement, wheel barrows and other things. I for one will buy these bricks as a way to support them to keep going forward,” he said.
Prof Ncube said the youths need to be given an opportunity to be self-reliant.
“There is nothing wrong with that at all. The President is working hard to ensure that we reach the Upper Middle Economy by 2030, we are trying to reach that goal. Our prices of goods are also stable.”
Prof Ncube added that the availability water was vital in that youths can do various projects.
“Even bigger projects like the construction of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam are being done. The President instructed us to have it completed by the end of the year, we are busy with that project. As we enter into 2023 we need to have the pipeline that connects the dam to Bulawayo completed and people getting water straight from there,” said Prof Ncube.
He said the Government will work on creating an “agricultural green belt” along the pipeline to Bulawayo where women and the youth will get land for horticultural projects.
“We also envisage that the Tuli-Manyange Dam in Gwanda will be completed and we can sell our water to countries like South Africa and Botswana. As the Minister of Finance, my job is to release funding for all these projects so that they are completed as soon as possible,” he added.
With Zimbabwe having recently taken delivery of nearly US$1 billion from the IMF’s special drawing rights, Prof Ncube said social services and mining will also be targeted for development.
“The IMF SDR funds that we have received will be used to develop the country and all these projects that we have started throughout the country such as roads, housing and hospitals. We are also looking at Makokoba suburb in Bulawayo, it has such rich history and we decided something needed to be done to preserve it. We are looking at developing that suburb,” he said.
Prof Ncube said the youth, that make up a huge chunk of small-scale miners are set to benefit from the SDR funds.
“Looking at small-scale miners, we have a lot of youths that have ventured into that business and we are pouring funds into that, we are purchasing mining equipment that we will avail to them on a loan basis and they will then use their profits to pay back for the equipment loans. I know for a fact that equipment is their biggest challenge and we are there to assist them,” he said.
He further said irrigation projects will also benefit from these funds so that water is available throughout the year for agricultural purposes.
Prof Ncube said President Mnangagwa highlighted that provinces in the country must avail land for women and the youth.
“We were at Zimplats in Ngezi, where the President said he was serious about the youths and women getting land as more of these people were needed in this sector. I am saying that this is rural farming but it’s also urban farming, we have youths that are interested in urban areas, so we will place them under the Pfumvudza/Intwasa programme so that they get inputs that we will provide as Government,” he said.
Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) have also been identified as an area the youth can tap into.
“We want to support our youths in this area, if you look at other countries like Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria, they are supported by their governments to get into coding and ICTs, we are also looking into that and we are fixing that. We want to have a building that youths can operate from doing ICT-based businesses. We are serious about supporting the youths and women,” he said. — @NyembeziMu.