Binga: The manifestation of the development promise
Zimpapers Elections Desk
INCREASED food security, employment, education opportunities and infrastructure development are just some of the fruits reaped by Binga in Matabeleland North province over the last five years, as what was once a forgotten and maligned district has taken centre stage since ascent of President Mnangagwa to power, thereby living up to the Second Republic’s mantra of living no one and no place behind.
Fishing rigs for chiefs, youth and women, community boreholes, a polytechnic, improved health services and better roads are just some of the developments that have been brought by government to Binga, transforming what some might have thought to be distant rural backwater into a thriving district that is now on the cusp of realising its full potential.
Since coming to power in 2017, President Mnangagwa has been at the forefront in terms of driving economic growth and development in Matabeleland and has been particularly concerned with areas that have previously lagged behind in development, like Binga.
Last year President Mnangagwa announced at a star rally at Siabuwa Business Centre in Binga that the Government under the Second Republic committed itself to develop Binga.
Less than a year later, the President has shown that he is a man of his words with the number of development projects that have taken place in the district.
President Mnangagwa has been in the forefront in the implementation of key projects in the district and has constantly visited the area with the most recent being the launch of the Culture Month that was held at Kariyangwe High School under Chief Siansali.
Speaking at a post-Cabinet briefing a couple of weeks ago, acting Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Dr Jenfan Muswere said tremendous progress has been made in the implementation of these transformative projects in Binga.
“The Government has scored remarkable success in the implementation of the following: establishment of the Binga Vocational Skills Industrial College; delivery of two ambulances at Binga Hospital; Binga Airstrip rehabilitation; refurbishment of Binga Hospital Mortuary; construction of Chipale clinic; construction of classroom blocks and staff houses at Chibondo, Mulindi, Bulawayo Kraal and Muchesu primary schools as well as carrying out a blitz for the issuance of identification documents to the people of Binga.
“Among the ongoing projects are the rehabilitation of Binga-Kamativi and Binga-Siakobvu roads; eight access roads were completed for Chiefs Siansali, Pashu, Dobola, Saba, Siachilaba, Siabuwa, Sinampande and Sinakoma. Construction of Nsungwale floods disaster recovery houses of which 37 are at various stages of completion; the drilling of boreholes for 17 chiefs, drilling of 30 boreholes for Binga North and another 30 for Binga South, delivery of fishing rigs for the empowerment of women, youths and chiefs,” said Dr Muswere.
Further, in terms of health provision, a total of 16 clinic projects are at various stages of implementation, and expecting mothers’ shelters are being constructed at these sites.
Government also endorsed the former rural district council’s request to be granted town board status, this thereby unlocking a lot of opportunities for the district. Zimpapers last week visited the district and found an environment of sheer excitement as various stakeholders and villagers highlighted the development projects in the district and how these were fast changing their lives.
From the officials
Binga District Development Coordinator, Mr Kabome Land Siansole revealed that everything was moving with revered speed in the district as the government pushes to deliver on its development promises.
He said the district continued to witness the manifestation of promises made by President Mnangagwa.
“When you look at the progress that has been made in the district in just under a year, it shows you the Second Republic’s commitment in developing this district. Talk of the Bulawayo Kraal where new pumps have been installed and all we are now waiting for are the transformers.
“Our chiefs, youth and women got their fishing rigs, which have transformed their lives. The4se are tangible things which one can easily ask to see for themselves and we will gladly take them there. Our mortuary was also rehabilitated by the government, increasing its capacity from six bodies to 12 bodies,” said Mr Siansole.
He said some of the projects they were excited about was the Muchesu coal mine, rehabilitation of the Binga-Karoi road and the drilling and equipping of boreholes in the district.
“In Muchesu, just over 31 houses for villagers who were reorganised from where the mine is operating, have been completed and handed over to the beneficiaries. The mine itself has created huge employment opportunities for community, which is exciting as it has transformed their lives.
“As of the Binga-Karoi road, already 10 kilometres have been completed and already the tender for a further 10 kilometres has already been flighted,” said the DDC.
Binga chief executive officer, Mr Joshua Muzamba echoed the same sentiments commending the Government for granting them town status saying the move was apt considering that Binga sat on the border with Zambia, with the other entry points being in Victoria Falls and Kariba.
“Binga town is growing fast because we have industries that include fishing, wildlife and mining. However, as the town grows, we would obviously have to provide services that include roads, sewer reticulation, water and sanitation, health and education.
“An example is the development of our flagship tourist attraction which is the sand beach, there is need for infrastructure, accommodation, also the development of transport systems, banks, health facilities among other opportunities.
“In terms of lodges, our current capacity needs to be grown so that is why we are saying there is potential for the establishment of hotels and more lodges. There is also need for the development of water transport system from Binga to Zambia because we are nearer to Lusaka than the other exit points available in the country,” said Mr Muzamba.
Fishing rigs and the transformative effect
In Binga, 31 fishing rigs were donated under the Presidential Fishing Rigs scheme. These went to the then 16 installed chiefs, women and the youth.
When the Zimpapers crew visited the district, it was discovered that five more rigs were at an advanced stage of construction, four for the newly installed chiefs- Chief Binga, Chief Siakalenge, Chief Kavula and Chief Sinamagonde- while the fifth is set to be given to the youth after a pledge from President Mnangagwa last month during the launch of the culture month at Kariyangwe High School.
Zimpapers also managed to interview the sons of Chief Siamupha and Chief Saba who were coming from a fishing expedition using the donated rigs, who all revealed how the rigs had changed their lives.
“We have been operating this rig for just under a year and in this period we have witnessed the clear transformation of our lives. As is I am operating this rig with my brother and we have not only managed to raise money to keep our families but also our community as a whole.
“Further, we know that there is a problem of drugs and substance abuse among our peers but now with these rigs we have something to do and avoid all these ills in society. The President has surely helped transform our lives just by giving us this rig,” said one of the sons of Chief Siamupha, Mr Peter Muchimbwe.
Chief Saba’s son, Mr Pearson Mudenda revealed that the lives they were now living as compared to before they were given the rigs were now different.
“Someone might think that these rigs are for individual chiefs but the truth is that they belong to the entire communities. These fishing rigs are feeding whole communities, even those that are run by the youth and women.
“To be honest some of us making a living before we got these fishing rigs was very difficult such that anything was now possible but since we got the rigs things have changed for the better, we can feed ourselves, families and the community at large,” said Mr Mudenda.
Not only have these fishing rigs benefited the different beneficiaries but also government went a step further by awarding the contract for their actual construction to a Binga local contractor. In an interview the local contractor, Mr Muchimbwe Chineka paid tribute to the government for entrusting the project to a local, noting that this therefore meant that not only the beneficiaries of these rigs benefit but a whole lot more who would be involved in the construction works.
“This goes to show you that the Second Republic lives up to its promises, that is of leaving no one and no place behind, previously it was going to be someone from as far as Harare being given the tender to work on these rigs but they decided on a local to do the job of which I am also employing locals which therefore increase the pool of people benefiting from this project,” said Mr Chineka.
Realising the Bulawayo Kraal dream
For years the Bulawayo Kraal irrigation scheme continues to be at a standstill despite efforts from the government to push for its revival.
Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) has since taken charge of the scheme from the Department of Irrigation.
Last year, Government released $600 million to speed up the rehabilitation of the irrigation scheme which is expected to produce crops three times a year under irrigation.
A visit to the scheme revealed completion of rehabilitation works is now just a few weeks away, with the contractor tasked with the works have already completed the mounting of a pontoon pump boat and three new pump houses having already been completed.
Arda farm manager, Mr Headman Mudenda revealed that with the installation of the pontoon and the pump houses all that was pending were transformers, which he revealed that had already been purchased.
“The pontoon has two pipes which will suck the water from the river, the water will be pushed to the first pump which is just by the edge of the river. All the three pump houses have non-returnable valves installed, which will prevent backflows or any possible bursts.
“We now await the delivery of transformers which I understand have already been purchased once they are installed we will be able to pump water to the fields and ready to plant our first crop, this can happen even in the next two weeks or so,” said Mr Mudenda.
“My wish had been to meet the winter wheat planting deadline but since we have missed it, we will now be planting either sunflower or maize because already we have prepared the land and all that is pending for now is the water and the actual planting,” he added.
A total of 150 hectares has already been cleared and tilled at the scheme which is set to be 15 000ha once the whole fenced area is cleared.
Muchesu coal mine and the ‘reorganisation’ project
Now renamed Muchesu Coal, the new Lubu Coal Project, continues to trigger a string of economic spin-offs for the community including job creation while boosting the country’s energy sector as well as exports.
With President Mnangagwa expected to officially commission the project next month, it will mean the President would have visited the district three times in less than a year, which is the first time the district has experienced such since the country attained its independence.
Over 30 villagers who had to relocated to accommodate the mine are ecstatic after they have already had new modern houses constructed, completed and handed over to them.
A visit to the area revealed that builders are now completing the final four houses from those that were relocated, with Binga DDC, Mr Siansole saying they preferred the term “reorganised.”
Villagers interviewed revealed that to them this was more of an upgrade as the mine had built modern houses for them away from the huts which they used to live in.
“We used to have four round huts, three bedrooms and a kitchen but the mine has now built for us a three bedroomed house with a lounge and an outside kitchen hut. These are modern facilities and to be honest they have value. The company is also promising that they will be providing us with water and transport to take our kids to school as they construct a school, which is all exciting and appreciated.
“Further, our husbands and children have been provided with employment at the mine, our lives in general have been transformed, we are now a modern community not backward at all,” said Mrs Sandra Muzambwa.
The mine started production recently and is one of the transformative development strides in Matabeleland North province given its impact on jobs, community development and downstream industries. The mining firm has been accelerating the assembling of machinery in recent months and this has been facilitated by the successful £7,5 million fundraising last October. One thing that emerge as the Zimpapers crew went around the projects implemented under the Second Republic was that the government is indeed delivering on its mantra of leaving no one and no place behind.
The projects are not just a myth but are realistic, with villagers in Binga all resonating how these projects have transformed their lives.
When President Mnangagwa declared in one of his visits to Binga that; “Here in Binga from east to west there has been under development and we are addressing that” one might have dismissed it as politicking but one then needs to visit the district to see for themselves that the President is indeed a man of his words..