THE long-forgotten Masvingo Airport has finally received a major facelift courtesy of President Robert Mugabe’s imminent visit to the city for the Zanu PF conference, which starts today and ends on Saturday. By Tatenda Chitagu Mugabe is expected to land at the airport on Thursday.
Source: Forgotten Masvingo Airport gets facelift ahead of Mugabe visit – NewsDay Zimbabwe December 13, 2016
At the weekend, patching of the runway was underway and air traffic control systems were being upgraded. The tarred road that leads to the not-so-busy airport has been resurfaced, with officials from the roads department working round the clock to ensure that everything is in order.
In 2013, government announced plans to upgrade the airport, but shelved them. In a report released by the Economic Planning and Investment Promotion ministry then, the government said the Masvingo Airport was part of several projects that urgently required attention.
“Government is seeking strategic partners and investors to bankroll the construction of a new terminal building and runway at Masvingo Airport. Masvingo province is popular with tourists because of the Great Zimbabwe Ruins, which are situated about 30 kilometres south of the city.
“A total of $300 million is required for the upgrading and development of airport infrastructure and services in Zimbabwe. Key investment opportunities [include] construction of a new terminal building and runway expansion for Masvingo Airport, modernisation of air navigation equipment for all airports, replacement of air terminal meteorology equipment, rehabilitation of Harare International Airport runway and completion of Joshua Nkomo Airport,” the report read.
But several years down the line, nothing materialised, until Mugabe and his Zanu PF party decided that Masvingo hosts this year’s conference.
Apart from the airport, most infrastructure in the city has also been spruced up with the local authority marking roads and filling potholes along the way that leads to the conference venue, Masvingo Showgrounds.
New roads created at the showgrounds have also been tarred, while local hotels and lodges also upgraded their facilities ahead of the annual jamboree.
“It is like a district education official coming to inspect a school. Everyone, including the headmaster, quakes in their boots,” a Zanu PF official said on condition of anonymity.
However, residents had mixed feelings over the development, with some saying Zanu PF officials should let Mugabe get the true picture on the ground, while others welcomed the sprucing-up of the infrastructure.
“That is why he is out of touch with reality because his hangers-on misinform him to give a picture that everything is okay when the opposite is true,” a Masvingo resident said off the cuff.
But another resident said: “At least there may be some economic spinoffs from the congress. Let us not just look at the negatives, but welcome the permanent infrastructure that will remain.”