From George Maponga in Masvingo
Construction of the new 650-seater Parliament building in Mt Hampden is set to start after the Chinese government released an initial tranche of $46 million for the project.
The new Parliament is being built to replace the current one which is short of space resulting in some legislators being forced to conduct business in the August House while standing.
Speaker of Parliament Advocate Jacob Mudenda last week revealed that road construction works at the venue of the new Parliament building had already started after the Chinese government released the initial batch of funds for the project.
Adv Mudenda was speaking to the media on the sidelines of the Speaker’s Stakeholder Meeting with Civil Society organisations and the media in Masvingo.
Building of the new Parliament is expected to gobble cost $140 million.
‘’The Chinese Government has released $46 million for the new Parliament building in Mt Hampden and right now work has started on road construction and we hope that after between two to two and half years the new Parliament will have been completed,’’ he said.
Adv Mudenda said the new Parliament will have a capacity to accommodate 650 legislators.
‘’The implementers of the project are the Ministries of Transport and Infrastructural Development together with the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing and we hope their involvement in the project will bring the total project cost down from the initial $140 million,’’ he added.
The Speaker decried the current shortage of space in Parliament which he said was forcing some of the legislators to stand in the August House.
‘’The current Parliament that we are using can only cater for 120 people but now we have more than 270 legislators so there is a serious shortage of space in the house (Parliament building),’’ he added.
Adv Mudenda challenged the media and civil society organisations to make sure the legislators did the job they were elected to do by the electorate.
He decried the tendency by some Members of Parliament to sleep in the House, saying legislators were in Parliament to represent people hence they were supposed to actively participate in its business.
Mt Hampden is poised to transform into a modern city upon completion of the new parliament building as other ancillary infrastructure such as banks, hotels and small businesses are expected to sprout to service the new Parliament.
Construction of the new Parliament in Mt Hampden got impetus last month after Micro Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Minister Obert Mpofu signed the $46 million deal in China to kick-start building of the new Parliament building.
The money is the first tranche of funds that would be released by the Chinese government which undertook to provide funds for the new Parliament building.
Besides funding construction of the new Parliament building, China is also providing funds to Zimbabwe to stimulate production in the agricultural sector and also in housing development.