THE government of Zimbabwe is looting Matabeleland’s economy through its agencies and this has to stop immediately.
Judging by the current state and neglect of the Victoria Falls highway, a key national and international tourism corridor, it is clear that the government does not give a hoot about the development and economic growth of Matabeleland.
How can Transport minister Obert Mpofu accept the present state of Victoria Falls Road despite the fact that it has two tollgates collecting cash 24/7 all year round from motorists? I would understand if he was just an ordinary villager like me.
Mpofu is a doctorate holder. I wonder how such an educated man fails to manage a simple task of clearing up and cleaning the country’s national highways!
Enter the chairperson of the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara), Joshua Mugabe. He has allowed Victoria Falls Road to deteriorate yet Zinara continues to collect money on the roads. The young Mugabe sees no problem in taking funds from Matabeleland North and spending them elsewhere!
To Mpofu and Mugabe I ask: Why is money collected from the Victoria Falls Road tollgates taken to Harare? Why is it not used to facilitate clearing of trees and grass along the road?
Why do you find this method of looting cash from this highway and spending it elsewhere normal?
What is your problem? Is Matabeleland North not in Zimbabwe? This is a tollgate revenue scandal of the century and extreme marginalisation of Matabeleland North.
Let me propose a solution to this problem: Protest! Victoria Falls Road must be maintained before the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) event as many visitors to the region will use that highway to visit our world wonder, the Victoria Falls, and Hwange National Park after they are done with the international show.
If it is not cleared and maintained in time for the fair, I will personally assist you by calling for public protests at the Large City Hall in Bulawayo, where I will invite concerned citizens of Matabeleland to come and form a new roadworks private company — Matabeleland Road Networks Company.
The company will by all means necessary take over the collection of tollgate fees along Victoria Falls Road from Zinara and Mugabe and use the money to employ locals to maintain the highway and expand the tarred road network within Matabeleland North.
Only 20% of the collected cash by the citizens’ roadworks company will be paid to Zinara for use outside this province.
We will fight for this model if Zinara fails to fix and clean up this strategic highway before ZITF. Be warned! Stop promoting regional economic theft left, right and centre.
I will not go into an academic argument on how important this highway is to the economy of the province and Zimbabwe as this is very obvious.
Let me urge the authorities to revise their priorities of fixing the country’s road network. Your road network priorities are wrong and will not help turn around our struggling economy.
We want a highway from Jotsholo to Gokwe so people can buy grain and cotton from the Midlands while those in Gokwe will come and buy the world’s best beef from our province.
We want a highway from Lupane to Kwekwe via Nkayi. We want a highway from Lupane to Plumtree via Tsholotsho. We want a highway from Binga to Kariba.
Tollgates from the parent highway of Victoria Falls Road can finance the surfacing of these roads because they already exist, but are neglected by authorities who want to continue depending on Rhodesia-created infrastructure.
Don’t take money from Matabeleland North province to finance Bulawayo-Harare Road, Plumtree-Bulawayo Road, Masvingo-Harare Road or even Victoria Falls Airport, not at this stage of our national economic development.
Leave that for later and go where it matters. The majority of villagers in Matebeleland North have no use for that infrastructure.
Those roads you are giving priority to don’t open any new national markets for the Zimbabwean economy to grow. The majority of people who constitute the Zimbabwean market are in the villages and we need highways to reach them and not maintain what Cecil John Rhodes and his white boys built.
Please provide cash for roads in Matabeleland North urgently.
Two weeks ago in our village we lost ukhulu uNyathi, a senior elder who was hit by a car while crossing the bushy and unmaintained Victoria Falls Highway from a cattle dip tank meeting. The village is mourning the loss of a wonderful old man.
Imagine though how traumatised the white South African family whose car killed Nyathi are feeling today back home.
They left South Africa on a wonderful holiday trip to Zimbabwe to see the world wonder Victoria Falls and on their way back they killed an old villager because the government agency Zinara and the Transport ministry personnel are failing to provide a simple service that this family paid for through the tollgates.
This is an unforgivable scandal.