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Some development practitioners in Hwange district have implored leaders in local authorities to come up with deliberate policies that compel any company that invests in the area to commit to ploughing back to the community.
Hwange, Victoria Falls, Dete which all makeup Hwange district have vast natural resources including minerals such as coal, vegetation and wildlife, making the area the country’s prime tourism destination.
The extent of natural resources is not commensurate with development on the ground, a majority of investors in the area reportedly employ non-locals in most cases and take profits back to their areas of origin.
The district lacks even a tourism or wildlife college despite being home to the world’s seventh natural wonder, Hwange national park and the country’s best hotels.
Development practitioner Alois Sikuka says the district lacks transformational leadership.
“Information reaches communities very late because leaders are only seen when they canvas for votes. This lack of leadership is seen in improper employment of people where locals are sidelined,” he said.
Sikuka called for the employment of locals so as to improve standards of living and ensure money circulates locally.
“There should be the empowerment of locals so they know about labour laws. Companies are hiding behind Covid-19 saying contracts have been terminated because they can’t pay people yet behind the scenes the same posts are filled by people from elsewhere. The constitution states that all government institutions must create employment for locals,” he said.
Government has claimed equal employment opportunities for locals through the devolution policy but on the ground, nothing of that sort is happening.
In Hwange and Victoria Falls locals have accused companies of busing in workers from other areas leaving them out.
An environment consultant Kansingo Montana said locals must be involved in local projects.
“We don’t need outside for us to empower ourselves,” he said.
“We still don’t have a college in Hwange district yet there are vast natural resources and wildlife. The problem is that companies are allowed to operate without ploughing back to the community. There should be community social responsibility programmes and corporate social investment to uplift the community. We should be able to compel whoever wants to do business in the district to invest in the community.”