Source: ‘Empowerment key to national healing, reconciliation’ | The Herald June 3, 2016
Prosper Ndlovu Bulawayo Bureau
Acting President Phelekezela Mphoko says economic empowerment of ordinary Zimbabweans is a vital component in the attainment of genuine national healing and reconciliation.
Speaking while engaging villagers in the Gwayi area of Matabeleland North on Wednesday when he toured the Gwayi-Shangani Dam site, Acting President Mphoko, who also heads the Ministry of National Healing and Reconciliation, directed companies operating in the province to employ locals and to desist from “importing” labour.
“Everybody must be empowered in this country and that is how we can solve conflicts and reconcile our people.
“Companies should consider local people first when employing personnel for national projects. Unless if it’s an area that needs technical expertise, otherwise all general work and other menial tasks should be given to locals,” he said.
He was responding to a concern raised by one villager that the contractor in charge of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam project was sidelining locals in the recruitment of workers.
“Baba (father), here at Mabale area we are desperate for employment and want to be employed when national projects are done. Instead we see people coming from the eastern parts of the country to get jobs ahead of us in our area,” said the villager.
Matabeleland North has of late become a prime investment province given its vast natural resource base.
In the past few years, a number of companies have embarked on projects in coal mining, electricity, gas and processing industries running into millions of dollars, creating more job opportunities.
The Government is already spearheading economic empowerment through the indigenisation drive, which is strongly anchored on the fruitful utilisation of natural resources.
The country’s economic blueprint, Zim-Asset, also emphasises empowerment issues.
Acting President Mphoko challenged ministries and Government departments to ensure community involvement in development and ensure their full participation in national projects.
“You’re aware that I’m also the Minister of National Healing and Reconciliation. Make sure that next time we come here there are no complaints of this nature,” said VP Mphoko.
“Our Government offices are there to deal with such issues but the problem is that you (villagers) are afraid to approach your leaders and tell them your problems.”
The villagers also requested that Government facilitates a shareholding arrangement for them to have a stake in all the companies that operate in their area.
Some sought engagement with the contractor to assist them in the quarry stone project for a number of construction projects in the surrounding districts.
The Acting President assured the Gwayi community that Government would expedite the completion of the dam project, which would open more economic opportunities for them.
“As the Government we want this dam to be completed soon and we’ll look for the required money. So don’t lose hope, your Zanu-PF Government is there and I can assure you this will be achieved.
“Water is life and this project will give you success in farming and livestock. It’s a must that this project be completed.”