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Thupeyo Muleya THE INTERVIEW
Zanu-PF is poised to hold its 17th Annual National People’s Conference at Mzingwane High School, Esigodini, in Matabeleland South Province, between 10 and 15 December, with 5 000 delegates expected to attend. The annual indaba, the first of its kind in the Second Republic, will be held under the theme; “Zimbabwe is open for business: In peace and unity towards an upper middle income by 2030”. Here, our Beitbridge Bureau Chief, Thupeyo Muleya (TM) speaks to Matabeleland South zanu-pf chairman Cde Rabelani Choeni (RC) about the forthcoming conference.
TM: Your province hosts the 17th Annual People’s Conference of the ruling Zanu-PF party, how prepared are you and how are the logistics going? Are there any challenges?
RC: Firstly, we are delighted as a province to be hosting such an indaba, as we mark a new beginning in Zimbabwe. In terms of preparations, we have covered a lot of ground and are ready to roll. The conference venue is now ready and we will soon be handing it over to national party chairperson Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri for further management.
In essence we are expecting a full house. This will be a very memorable event to be held in our province.
Currently, we are making follow-ups on those who pledged to donate cattle to be consumed by delegates during the conference. Initially, we had proposed to slaughter 168 beasts, but that was revised to 86. Our only challenge at the moment is getting those cattle. You will note that some of those who had promised to deliver the cattle are now opting to give us money ($500). This is a setback but we are confident that we will pull through. Our logistics team is working around the clock tying up all the loose ends.
TM: What is the significance of hosting the showpiece in the region and what are your expectations?
RC: It is important to highlight that Zanu-PF is the strongest revolutionary movement in the country and this province. We are very grateful for the recognition by the party leadership to hold the first conference in the Second Republic in our backyard. This bears testimony that people from this region play a very critical role in shaping national politics and the country’s development agenda.
Our expectations are that this conference will transform dreams into reality as the delegates deliberate on serious bread and butter issues. In addition, this is a platform to expose our people on mapping the way forward in line with President Mnangagwa and the Government’s Vision 2030. Such an indaba comes with great employment opportunities for our youths when they are engaged for various services including the venue set-up. It also brings business to the surrounding areas since we will be hosting a lot of delegates. Further, the fact that we will be discussing, among other issues, infrastructure development and devolution of the economy it is important for people in this area. They expect more economic, social and infrastructural benefits.
TM: What is the state of the party organisationally, and how does your overall showing in the last election reflect the state of the organisation?
RC: Let me say this again, we are the real deal in this province. In 2013 we had a clean sweep and we did it again this year, though we only lost one parliamentary seat out of 13. The party is getting stronger each day. We have never stopped working and we will continue from where we left off as we move forward to maintain our dominance as a people-driven party. On the ground, we are having more people following and joining the party. Those fence-sitters have realised that we are the party of excellence and are here to stay.
TM: How do you as a province, relate to this year’s theme?
RC: The theme shows how serious our Government is in turning around people’s fortunes. If we look into the period pre and post-elections we have remained united as a people and there were no incidents of political violence. We are very hopeful on growing socially, economically and politically as a province. There are a lot of investment opportunities in this area awaiting exploitation — much to the benefit of the district, provincial and national economies. These include livestock production, mining, education, tourism, manufacturing, transport and logistics, among others.
TM: What are the most important issues affecting your province, politically, socially and economically?
RC: Our main challenges are in the education, infrastructure, communication, roads, agriculture, economic and health sectors. In short we have a lot of areas which need attention to spread development opportunities evenly. For instance, we would love to see a situation where we have at least one college in each district to reduce the costs parents incur sending their children to other provinces to access tertiary education. In addition, we have an acute shortage of science laboratories. This has a negative bearing on our pass rate on STEM subjects. Mobile communication services are still a challenge in some areas though they are being addressed. Considering that we are more into mining and livestock production, it is important for the people to get the necessary support to capacitate them to become productive. The poor state of roads and infrastructure and irrigation projects are also worrisome. There is also a strong need to increase the number of primary and major healthcare facilities in Mat South.
TM: How do you relate to President Mnangagwa’s drive towards devolution?
RC: There is no better time than now to talk about a devolved economy. We thank the President for such a people-centred vision. This initiative will spread economic development from district, provincial up to national level. Mat South is affluent with resources which can turnaround our fortunes under a devolved economy. As I have already indicated, we have a lot of opportunities in livestock production, cement manufacturing (in Beitbridge and Collen Bawn), tourism, mining, irrigation development, education, health, transport and logistics, citrus farming. Our geographical location close to Botswana and South Africa also presents opportunities to create dry ports at our borders. All this, if properly implemented, will create wealthy, healthy people and employment opportunities for our youths.
TM: As all roads lead to Esigodini next week, what memories do you want delegates coming for the conference to take home?
RC: Our hope is having a memorable conference where real issues to move the economy forward are discussed among other key national issues. We also hope that on the business and infrastructure side we will be able to grow as a province. This should be an indaba where productive undertakings should be made. These include intensifying value addition, food security, economic growth and the start of a devolved economy.
TM: What message do you want to share with those who will be attending the conference?
RC: This is a great platform to engage as representatives of the people. We must strive to take all deliberations with determination and commitment. They should feel welcome to our rainbow province. Let me also indicate that we are not looking forward to any untoward events, enough logistics have been done on issues of safety and security. We don’t expect to have a repeat of the White City events (bombings).