By Felex Share
Newly-appointed Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs yesterday said focus during their five-year term would be economic development using resources in their respective provinces.
They said the devolution concept, if fully implemented, would accelerate economic growth as it empowered provinces to determine their development priorities.
Government plans to introduce wholesale changes to the national governance architecture by devolving power and authority to provinces.
This means each province will have its own economic development plan underpinned by resources found in that province.
Experts are already working on the policy and legal framework to make devolution a success.
Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs Ellen Gwaradzimba said she wanted to rebrand the province using available resources.
“We want Manicaland to be the model province,” she said.
“We also need an equitable distribution of national resources and major projects I will give focus on include diamond-cutting and polishing, completion of Marowanyati Dam in Buhera, resuscitation of irrigation schemes in Middle Sabi, Nyanyadzi and Nyakomba as well as construction of Kondo Dam. We also have to ensure we construct new irrigation schemes around Osborne and Mupudzi dams.”
Minister Gwaradzimba said she would also prioritise road infrastructure development and maintenance in rural and urban areas.
“We want an alternative bridge to Birchenough Bridge because maintaining the existing one costs $40 million, while construction of a new one costs $35 million,” she said.
Minister of State for Midlands Provincial Affairs Larry Mavima said priorities would be in different sectors.
“The Provincial Affairs Minister now has
new responsibilities, which involve ensuring that devolution takes place from a legislative point of view as well as the economic activities that contribute to the GDP of the country,” he said.
“To grow our GDP as Midlands, we are luck that we are endowed with rich mineral resources which include diamonds, gold, platinum, coal, chrome, emeralds and lithium. We have to look at how best we can grow the mining sector in an inclusive manner. Artisanal miners have to be capacitated so that they grow and contribute to the GDP.
“They should collaborate with big mining companies and get the necessary technical expertise to be professional,” he said.
Mashonaland East Provincial Affairs Minister Apollonia Munzverengi said the province would focus mainly on agriculture and mining for development.
“Mashonaland East province is dominated by agriculture but there are mining activities in areas such as Acturus, Goromonzi, Mutawatawa and Mutoko,” she said.
“I will get to know what projects they have implemented and what is still outstanding. I will also come up with my input. For example it is not a secret that this is year there is a possibility of low rainfall and this means the abundant water bodies in the provinces have to be fully utilised such that we irrigate our crops to have sufficient food.”
Minister of State for Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs Richard Moyo said all programmes in the province should be completed within set timelines.
“We have got our projects like the Gwayi-Shangani Dam, the Bulawayo-Nkayi and the Bulawayo- Tsholotsho Road, among others,” he said.
“We are checking on how far those have gone and push them so that by the end of December they should be able to impact positively on the lives of the people in the province,” he said.
“In terms of devolution, if it comes into practice, it will help us a lot as we have got our mines, animals and tourist attraction centres. These we will use to develop ourselves and the good thing is we will be running most of these projects on our own. We also have the methane gas project coming in Lupane and this will go a long a way in uplifting the living standards of our people.”
Under devolution, Harare Metropolitan would be Zimbabwe’s ICT nerve centre, while Bulawayo Metropolitan would become the country’s industrial hub, said President Mnangagwa recently.
Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Ezra Chadzamira said focus would be on poverty eradication using resources in the province.
‘We have a strong mining background, a lot of livestock and dams in the province,” he said.
“We will focus on irrigation, creating employment and value addition to the many products that come out of the province. Eyes will be on the Tugwi-Mukosi project as it is expected to take the province to another level. Experts are working on the master plan. Once that is done that’s when we will have a clear picture of what goes where. There will be tourism, agricultural and recreational activities.”
Minister of State for Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Judith Ncube said: “There are a lot of projects and programmes in the pipeline but priorities have to come from the people. The people of Bulawayo are key in this whole issue of development. My policy is there is nothing I can do without the people. They are going to come up with their own priorities and my role will be to facilitate and adhere to the policies. I am going to engage them so that we fail together or succeed together. Failure though is not an option.”
Minister of State for Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs Monica Mavhunga said she would be able to comment after “completing the hand-over take over process.”
Harare is yet to have a Minister of State for Provincial Affairs.