NKAYI villagers in Matabeleland North pooled resources together to electrify six schools in wards 20 and 21 after years of frustration waiting for the government’s rural electrification programme.
Villagers held celebrations at Guwe Primary School on Friday to mark the success of their electrification project.
The electrified primary schools are Guwe, Zinyangeni, Gwitshi and Duhamazondo while the secondary ones are Guwe and Hadebe.
In 2001, the villagers formed Isibane Sentuthuko Zesa Project to raise Z$61 million for the project before inflation pushed it up to Z$74 million.
The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) contributed 60% towards the total cost of the project, with the remaining 40% coming from villagers.
“At Guwe Secondary School awards ceremony in 2001, a Nkayi Rural District Council official mentioned that it was going to take at least 20 years or more for communities covering Zinyangeni to Guwe to have access to electricity. This did not please villagers,” Obadiah Moyo, the Isibane Sentuthuko Zesa Project adviser said.
“Villagers mobilised themselves and formed the Isibane Sentuthuko Zesa Project.
“The committee then organised villagers in the six schools and resolved to collect an amount of Z$5 from each household,” he said.
“Due to inflation, each household was later asked to pay an additional Z$30.”
Moyo, who is also a former student at Guwe Primary School, said it took villagers nearly six years to raise the required amount for the project.
“The final payment was made in May 2006 and soon after, REA completed the whole project,” he said.
He, however, said Zesa only connected the schools to the national grid recently.
King Dube, the Zesa southern regional manager hailed villagers for taking the lead to bring electricity to their communities.
“This occasion is both timely and appropriate as it marks yet another milestone achieved in extending grid electricity to the rural service and communal areas through partnerships with committed development initiators,” he said.
Musa Dube, the Nkayi district education officer, expressed hope that the electrification of schools would push up the pass rate as “learners now have an opportunity to continue with studies in the evening at school”.