By Africa Moyo
The Hwange community is pleading with Government to award their town municipal status so that it can be run by a mayor, just like other towns across the country, to promote development.
Currently, Hwange is led by the Hwange Local Board, a local authority created by statute under the body of the Urban Councils Act, Chapter 29:15.
The Hwange Local Board was established in 1974.
Minister of State for Matabeleland North Province, Ambassador Cain Mathema told President Mnangagwa last week during the ground-breaking ceremony for the expansion of Hwange Thermal Power Station that residents were now agitated, and keen to have municipal status.
“. . . I have been asked by the Hwange community in particular, and by Matabeleland North in general, to ask you Sir, to please assist us have Hwange turned into a municipality so that the place is turned into one local authority called Hwange town led by a mayor,” said Ambassador Mathema.
President Mnangagwa immediately promised to send the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, July Moyo, to address the issue.
“So I am simultaneously instructing the various small entities that have been running Hwange that this is now my instruction and you should cooperate,” said President Mnangagwa.
The call for municipal status comes at a time when Hwange Colliery Company Limited, which owns the town, is considering selling the town preferably to Government for $300 million so that it off-sets its debts.
Before the approval of a Scheme of Arrangement by creditors in May last year, HCCL owed various firms and employees $352 million but since the firm has started paying the debts, the figure has marginally come down.
HCCL pays employees $1,8 million every month as part of the Scheme of Arrangement.
The 119-year old coal miner wants the Ministry Local Government to purchase its 5 000 employee houses since some of them are allegedly now occupied by workers for other mining entities such as Makomo Resources, Zambezi Gas and Mota Engil, among others, at HCCL’s expense for water and electricity.
” . . . if it is possible, to allow workers of Hwange Colliery, NRZ (National Railways of Zimbabwe) and ZPC (Zimbabwe Power Company) to eventually own the company houses that they are occupying currently because after all, the biggest single shareholder in the three companies is the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe led by you, Your Excellency,” said Ambassador Mathema.
Some HCCL workers are thought to be renting out the houses so that they earn an extra dollar given the operational challenges facing their company.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Mathema said President Mnangagwa’s administration is doing wonders on the infrastructure development front, particularly through the idea of quick-wins under the Rapid Results Approach.
The project had been on the cards in the last 10 years but was constructed during the new administration’s 100-day programme.
“. . . projects are sprouting out overnight in a rush all over the country like impatient mushroom between Kadoma and Kwekwe during the rainy season,” said Ambassador Mathema.
He said some of the projects in Matabeleland North province include the construction of the long-awaited Gwayi-Shangani Dam; erection of a brand new city near Hwange and the construction of a new five-star hotel in Hwange.
Other infrastructure projects include the dualisation of the Beitbridge-Gwanda-Victoria Falls highway set to start anytime soon; the widening and tarring of the Bulawayo-Nkayi-Manoti and the Bulawayo-Tsholotsho roads.
The Kwekwe-Nkayi-Lupane and Gokwe-Binga-Cross-Dete roads are also set to be refurbished.
In southern Tsholotsho, there are plans to construct a provincial hospital, create new suburbs, clinics and a secondary school.